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Evidence of healing in the eradication of schizophrenia in Western Lapland

Talbot, RJ Evidence of healing in the eradication of schizophrenia in Western Lapland , in: Theatre & Performance Research Association; Performance & The Body Working Group: Bodies of Evidence, 8-10 September 2015, University of Worcester. (Unpublished)

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The presentation will draw on the documents, traces and evidence from The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland (2012- 2015) based on my experience as a performer throughout the process of making and touring, as well as video, images, and unpublished texts. This production is the first in a trilogy about mental illness, and is inspired by the ways in which intentions, codes and meanings may become scrambled not only for the individual experiencing a psychotic episode, but for everyone around them. The artistic directors of Ridiculusmus, David Woods and Jon Haynes, were drawn towards an ‘Open Dialogue’ method of therapeutic conversation practised in Western Lapland that has been successful in reducing registered cases of Schizophrenia by over 80%. Open Dialogue is an approach to psychosis therapy that has been inspired by Mikhail Bakhtin’s notions of dialogicity. Citing Bakhtin, the proponents acknowledge the ambiguous status of meaning in inter-subjective interaction, and take this as a basis for a principle they call ‘tolerating uncertainty’: ‘I and [the] other find ourselves in a relationship of absolute mutual contradiction of an event; (…) what the other rightfully negates in himself I rightfully affirm and preserve in him.’ (Seikkula and Arnkil: 2015, 6) Open Dialogue therapists intervene very quickly following a psychotic experience but proceed slowly to uncover ways to converse with psychotic voices. How is healing and new meaning manifest in an Open Dialogue therapy session? The presentation discusses part of the devising process in which Ridiculusmus put a ‘family’ of actors in-role into therapy in Finland. How can such a therapy be interpreted by participant-observers and theatre makers; and what principles emerge for therapists and performers, as a basis for creating authentic interaction, let alone ‘evidence’ of healing? What in particular is so different about Open Dialogue: ‘is not all therapy dialogic, and interactive after all?’ Likewise, we might ask what was unusually productive about the dramaturgy, the performance methods and scripting techniques. In particular, the presentation examines the process in which ‘authentic’ verbatim-texts derived from improvisation were thoroughly processed and ‘scrambled’ in order to create for an audience an ‘experience of auditory hallucination’ and so asks how the principles of Open Dialogic practice may be manifested in this production by Ridiculusmus.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Funders: Self-funded
Depositing User: RJ Talbot
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 11:45
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2016 01:38

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