Storytelling as a Revolutionary Act: Healing Ourselves, Healing Our Communities<br />Presentation by Leah Harris<br />Augu...
The Power of Story<br />“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou <br />“During ti...
"We have to be witnesses for those millions who are not speaking up now for whatever reason. That’s the role that I feel o...
Some themes that emerge through our stories of struggle and survival<br />Loss of voice and choice in mental health system...
Esmin Green<br />
Common themes: how we heal<br />Regaining our freedom and rights<br />Someone believes in us and our capacity to survive (...
What Storytelling Does<br />The shift: from patienthood to personhood<br />As patients the “professionals” narrated their ...
The Personal is the Political: Human Rights<br />I was able to let go of my private shame when I realized that I was not “...
Our Human RightsPrinciples of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Article 3)<br />Respect for inher...
Our Human Rights (CRPD)<br />Persons with disabilities have the right to liberty on an equal basis with others. Deprivatio...
Some Key Themes in the CRPD<br />Article 12 of the CRPD confers personhood to all persons with disabilities and by recogni...
Policy and Societal Implications of our Stories<br /><ul><li>End to forced treatment, involuntary commitment, Kendra’s Law
Non-coercive, holistic, community choices, such as peer-run crisis respites
End to mental health courts, guardianship, etc.
Informed consent about “treatments” and medications
Natural community supports; housing, meaningful work, relationships, mutual support/mutual aid
Children’s rights
Care for each other and for our world
Others?</li></li></ul><li>Using Our Stories to Make Change<br />Human rights issues/principles have a greater impact when ...
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Storytelling for Advocacy Purposes

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Presentation by Leah Harris provides a human rights perspective on the importance of telling your story as a path to healing and social change/social justice.

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  • “Dear Dr.” – a way for me to make sense of what happened to me and to speak truth to power.
  • Mindfreedom Oral History Project
  • “Dear Dr.”
  • Storytelling for Advocacy Purposes

    1. 1. Storytelling as a Revolutionary Act: Healing Ourselves, Healing Our Communities<br />Presentation by Leah Harris<br />August 18-19, 2010 Annual Statewide PNG Meeting<br />
    2. 2. The Power of Story<br />“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou <br />“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell<br />“All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them.” Isak Dinesen <br />
    3. 3. "We have to be witnesses for those millions who are not speaking up now for whatever reason. That’s the role that I feel our movement needs to play right now in society--to speak up, tell the truth about what we have known, what we have experienced in our own lives.” - Leonard Roy Frank<br />
    4. 4. Some themes that emerge through our stories of struggle and survival<br />Loss of voice and choice in mental health systems<br />Trauma and loss pathologized as “illness”<br />Rights violations: forced drugging, seclusion and restraint, involuntary commitment, abuse<br />Losing connections with our loved ones, children and friends; isolation from community<br />Loss of sense of self; we are no longer seen as people but as patients<br />Loss of human dignity; humiliation and torture<br />Others?<br />
    5. 5. Esmin Green<br />
    6. 6. Common themes: how we heal<br />Regaining our freedom and rights<br />Someone believes in us and our capacity to survive (and even thrive) despite what happened to us; trauma is acknowledged and released over time<br />We have a decent place to live, work that means something to us, creative outlets, access to good food and fresh air<br />Friends, relationships, connections – (or being left alone when we want that)<br />Natural, holistic supports and alternatives<br />Activism/engagement in the community<br />Others?<br />
    7. 7.
    8. 8. What Storytelling Does<br />The shift: from patienthood to personhood<br />As patients the “professionals” narrated their version of our story<br />Today, we reclaim the essence of our story; a way of claiming our power and our humanity<br />Commonalities in our stories point to a collective struggle but also a collective path to liberation<br />When we have the courage to tell our story, it allows others the space to tell theirs<br />The importance of speak-outs, speakers’ bureaus, oral history projects<br />
    9. 9. The Personal is the Political: Human Rights<br />I was able to let go of my private shame when I realized that I was not “defective” or “disordered” but the victim of human rights abuses in the name of “help”<br />I connected with the stories of others and saw that I was not alone<br />Like millions of oppressed peoples around the world, I can be part of an international movement to promote human rights and social justice<br />
    10. 10.
    11. 11. Our Human RightsPrinciples of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Article 3)<br />Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons;<br />Non-discrimination;<br />Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;<br />Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;<br />Equality of opportunity;<br />Accessibility;<br />Equality between men and women;<br />Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.<br />
    12. 12. Our Human Rights (CRPD)<br />Persons with disabilities have the right to liberty on an equal basis with others. Deprivation of liberty cannot be justified on the basis of disability. <br />People with disabilities also have the right to live independently in the community (Article 19) on an equal basis with others.<br />
    13. 13. Some Key Themes in the CRPD<br />Article 12 of the CRPD confers personhood to all persons with disabilities and by recognizing that we have the legal capacity to run our own lives. Also if we so desire, we can seek support to exercise our legal capacity. <br />Article 25 obliges health care professionals to provide treatment only on the basis of free and informed consent. Free and informed consent can only be given by the person concerned, and not by family members, courts or others. <br />Article 15 of the Convention protects the right to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which includes medical or scientific experimentation without consent.<br />
    14. 14. Policy and Societal Implications of our Stories<br /><ul><li>End to forced treatment, involuntary commitment, Kendra’s Law
    15. 15. Non-coercive, holistic, community choices, such as peer-run crisis respites
    16. 16. End to mental health courts, guardianship, etc.
    17. 17. Informed consent about “treatments” and medications
    18. 18. Natural community supports; housing, meaningful work, relationships, mutual support/mutual aid
    19. 19. Children’s rights
    20. 20. Care for each other and for our world
    21. 21. Others?</li></li></ul><li>Using Our Stories to Make Change<br />Human rights issues/principles have a greater impact when connected with a story; this is true of the general public, legislators, other decision-making bodies<br />Harvard Business Review: “Forget about statistics…to involve people at the deepest level, you need stories.”<br />Example: (2004) FDA Black Box warning on SSRI antidepressants – influenced by scores of family and the public coming forward and sharing their stories with the media and the Advisory Committee for public comment<br />
    22. 22. Storytelling and leadership<br />“If you understand the principles of storytelling, you probably have a good understanding of yourself and of human nature…” screenwriter Robert McKee <br />Good storytellers must have a good deal of life experience. One can teach the fundamentals of storytelling, but not to someone who has not had a breadth of experience (good and bad—especially bad).<br />"Self-knowledge is the root of all great storytelling."<br />
    23. 23. Some questions to ask when constructing your story<br />It’s all about point of view…<br />What is the story only you can tell? <br />What is the main message I want to convey?<br />Why am I telling this story now? <br />Who is my audience?<br />What details are necessary? <br />What details can I leave out? <br />
    24. 24. How do you tell your story?<br />Hold speak outs in your community<br />Writing, poetry, song, theater<br />Art and artivism<br />Be the media – use social media to your advantage<br />Engage traditional/corporate media – letters to the editor<br />Participate in public comment sessions<br />Engage in legislative advocacy<br />Other ways?<br />
    25. 25. Tips for telling your story for advocacy purposes<br />Distill your story down to its essence: choose one or two highlights from your story to focus on; perhaps the worst abuses you endured or the things that most helped you overcome. (Anecdote)<br />Tie these experiences to a needed social or policy change, or a human rights principle. (Reflection) Don’t just point out what’s wrong; if you can, suggest a positive solution. Keep the problem in the foreground; show how you overcame and how what helped you might help others<br />Practice being brief. Legislators and their staff are always pressed for time, and many public comment sessions are limited to 3 minutes.<br />Be yourself! "Everything is more compelling when you talk like a human being, when you talk like yourself.”  — Ira Glass<br />
    26. 26. Telling the Truth <br />“To me it is about truth, and ensuring that the public and the mental health system know the truth. And the truth is, you can't heal me without my cooperation, you cannot. There's no such thing as forced healing. We have to be active partners. That to me is what social action is about. It's sometimes about confronting this giant - it may be the drug companies, public opinion, the legislature - these huge powerful images, and confronting them with the truth. It also means that your voice has to be heard. You have to be loud sometimes. I think it's really important to be loud, and at the same time make sense and tell the truth.” --Carol Patterson<br />
    27. 27. Contact me! <br />leahharris2@gmail.com<br />Useful websites: <br />CHRUSPwww.chrusp.orgCenter for Digital Storytellingwww.storycenter.org<br />
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