2001 Conference (May 27-29)

Vancouver, B.C. Canada

Stephen Sloan

A Brief Story about Writing:
My Current Self-Description of Manic-Depression in a System




In October 2000, I went to a conference in Nashville for exploring alternative visions of recovery from mental illness. The conference was organized by the National Empowerment Center (NEC), .a group made up of "consumers and survivors" of the mental health system. The conference was attended by over 600 people from all over the United States and Europe. It lasted five days and consisted of sixty four workshops, daily plenaries, mad artists, and nightly scheduled informal meetings. I never had met anyone like myself who recovered from psychosis and went on to a better life. And here I was at conference watching people tell a story that I recognized as "our story" The piece I am sending you is my version of that story. I first wrote it in the spring. I rewrote it after I returned from Nashville.

From the text of My Current Self-Description..................... :

"I presented the first of a series of pieces entitled "My Current Self-Description of Manic Depression in a System" at the May, 1995, American Society of Cybernetics conference in Chicago, honoring Heinz von Foerster. The presentation was very well received. I felt great about it. Yet, less than a month after making the presentation, while I was attending in a week long tai chi workshop in San Francisco, I relapsed into an altered state of mind in which I began closing up in conversation with myself again. Afterwards, I did not take proper care of myself, and within a few months, I was hospitalized for complications from diabetes again. I did not go into a coma this time, but I contacted an infection that required my foot be amputated.

After five years --a great success--intensive tai chi practice--why another breakdown? "


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