Hi! We've just had our first full day in Toronto and what a day it has been! Dr Kathryn Church met us at our hotel and took us on a tour of the neighbourhood. Ryerson University, where David and Kathryn teach, is basically a block away from our hotel so we are very close to the campus. It is a buzzing, vibrant university.
Kathryn walked us to David Reville's History of Madness lecture at Ryerson at 1pm. This was the second of two part lecture on the history of the Consumer/Survivor/Ex-patient movement in Toronto. It was very exciting to be in a classroom with this knowledge being taught. His delivery was excellent and he succinctly put across some quite complex layers of theory, anecdote, chronological history, politicising of madness and personal experience which was a powerful combination.
The first hour of the lecture was a slide show on the history of movement. Obviously we were coming in on the second part, but it was fascinating just to see how the material is transmitted to the students. So, the first half was a lecture on the theories of the movement, of user involvement, which was the lead in to a showing of Working Like Crazy as an illustration of the issues led in the first half. There is a discussion group later in the week for students to talk about issues raised in the film and also an online "blackboard" where David posts all the lecture material, a transcript of the lecture, supplementary material and he also asked them to post a comment on what they thought was the funniest part of the film.
So back to the first hour. David talked about his theory of the "six tables" as a way of looking at the survivor movement: Setting the table, turning over the tables, Getting a seat at the table, Getting tables of our own, making tables and selling them, analysing our critique. He was focusing on the last three in this lecture. He illustrated "making tables of our own" with consumer survivor initiatives/CSI's (user groups/organisations) and gave a run down of the chronology of such organisations from the Mental Patients Association in Vancouver in 1970- 1971 (very similar time to the Scottish Union of Mental Patients, 1971/2) and the Ontario Mental Patients Association in Toronto in 1977. He said that by 1988 there were only 9 groups in the whole of Canada. I could see similarities there to how we are tracking the chronlogical history of user groups/organisations in Lothian.
David talked through some examples of CSI's includin PACE (People Advocacting Change from Empowerment) which I believe offers a crisis support service and he also mentioned the survivor organisation, Sound Times. David also linked the past with the present and the future by saying how CSI's were recognised as best practice in 1997 and how he hoped the new Canadian Mental Health Commission will invest in CSI's. Currently the Commission has been set up to deal with solving the current mental health crisis and they are doing a lot of research.
David then moved on to talk about "making tables and selling them" which he illustrated by talking about survivor run businesses like the ones we see in Working Like Crazy. He talked about the history of survivor run businesses in Ontario, which goes back the Mad Market (a flea market) set up in 1981 and also businesses like the Raging Spoon Cafe and A Way couriers who we see in Working Like Crazy. He also talks about the newest business "Out of this World" cafe based at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health. There are at the moment 11 businesses in Ontario, employing 800 survivors. This is "using the economy to build community".
David then went on to talk about the last table "Tabling our critique". He discussed LINDA MORRISSON, a survivor sociologist who wrote a book called "Talking Back to Psychiatry".
Linda also researched survivor narratives and wrote, I believe a book/paper called "Heroic Survivor Narrative". This stood out as a very interesting part of the lecture for me as it helped theorise/analyse the process of becoming an activist in the survivor movement and resonated with me from the material gathered from the Oor Mad History interviews.
David also illustrated Linda Morrison's model this with powerful comments from his own experience of forced treatment at the hands of the system. He said you quickly find out the only way to get out of hospital is to "pretend to be normal and to shut your mouth". You quickly realise you don't have power, so you act normal to get out. Then you realise it's not just you "who is being jerked around". Then from this shared experience you demand change.
He also gave the students several examples of survivor narratives, including Pat Capponi who has recently been trying to get her message out by writing crime fiction where the sleuths are mad people! Must get copies of her books!
David then led the students into Working Like Crazy, saying that the film illustrated the Six Tables. He talked a bit about the history of work placements and training in Canada for people with mental health issues and how inadequate and directionless they were. This allowed him to discuss how survivors set up alternatives - Turned over the table and created their own services. He explained how WLC is a critique of how we view mad people, and that it challenges us to see mad people as more than patients - but as people who "laugh and love and work".
I thought the lecture was fantastic. I also thought what was interesting was that it is offered as a Liberal Arts Elective, so students from all disciplines can take it. So you have students in nursing, journalism, engineering.... We had a very interesting discussion (among a million other discussions) about the pros and cons of this in the debrief session afterwards in Timothy's coffee house!
What a great day, roll on day two! I'm going to try and upload some photographs we took today, so will try to add these to the blog too. Cheers!