Psychology in the Real World is an umbrella term under which a number of groups, courses and ventures have taken place in Shropshire, and increasingly nationwide, over the past decade. Rather than bringing people together because they have a shared problem or diagnosis, Psychology in the Real World ventures bring people together who have a shared interest. For example: Understanding Ourselves and Others brings together people who are interested in exploring a variety of theories about people’s behaviour; The Black Dog and Bipolar Explorers enable people to critique ideas about depression and manic-depression; Toxic Mental Environments brings people together who want to analyse the social causes of distress and try and bring about social change; Thinking about Medication and Out of the Box attracts people who want to discuss a wide range of issues about medication and support each other in coming off psychiatric drugs; Walk and Talk enables participants to access the benefits of being in the countryside. Women in the Real World enables women from various cultural backgrounds to discuss women in society and women's mental health whilst critiquing the influence of different systems on women's lives (including media, local and national agencies, and others around us); Film club does likewise regarding watching films at a local cinema and discussing their relevance to our lives afterwards in the pub; This is Madness brings people together who want to critique and bring about change in mental health services.
Various resources used in the groups can be found on pages describing the groups and in The Resources and Other Articles Section. Please feel free to download and use these and anything else you find on the website. The aim of the website is to help people to set up groups.
Latest Film Club Poster:
Film Club October - Tuesday 30th October
Walk and Talk 2018 runs every Thursday setting off at 11am from Frankwell car park by footbridge in Shrewsbury for further information see poster.
Olive Bucknall, who attended several Psychology in the Real World groups and was a great supporter of Psychology in the Real World ideals, has died. Guy Holmes has written this obituary:
Olive Bucknall, a well-known campaigner for the reformation of mental health services, has died after a short illness brought on by a series of strokes. She was 97 and until recently had lived at home. Olive’s story formed the basis for the chapter ‘Relatives and Carers’ in the book ‘This is Madness Too’ and a more recent article in Asylum magazine. After her son Terry’s admission to psychiatric hospital as a young man, and the damage that she witnessed being caused to Terry’s brain by insulin coma therapy, ECT and high doses of psychiatric drugs, Olive’s mental health also suffered. She too was given ECT, a harrowing experience that left her memory-impaired as well as traumatised. Olive described herself as a ‘psychiatric service survivor’ and went on to become a member and supporter of numerous patient advocacy groups in Shropshire as well as national groups such as Survivors Speak Out, ECT Anonymous and Soteria Network. Olive told me that her mother said she ‘could talk the hind legs off a donkey’, but she was a good listener too. She paid close attention to what mental health workers and psychiatric patients said, tending to find the latter spoke more sense. She attended hundreds of meetings and conferences around the country telling her and Terry’s story. Her accounts could be long and rambling yet they brought many listeners to tears. Whilst speaking she would often be wracked with pain but she felt people needed to know what had happened: how an 18 year old young man had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital for ‘two weeks rest’ and had never left, becoming severely damaged by treatments that were supposed to help him and de-skilled by the impacts of institutionalisation. She fearlessly and forcefully campaigned for non-medical help for Terry and other long-term patients, often with little success. Tragically Terry died of cancer of the mouth and throat, never having received the help to give up smoking that Olive had long argued for.
I first met Olive in 1994 as co-members of a Patients’ Council - a group of volunteers who visit psychiatric hospitals, listen to patients’ descriptions of their experiences and feed these back anonymously to staff. Olive said: “You know what Guy… nothing about this place is normal. Nothing that goes on in this hospital is like what happens in your own home.” As a result of damage caused by ECT Olive could sometimes take a long time to make her point, but when she did it was always pertinent. And whilst it was deeply upsetting for her to speak about the lack of care she witnessed in mental health services she bravely did it, time after time after time. Indeed for over 50 years. Olive was a great believer in the ethos of the Soteria Network and always hoped that a Soteria House might be set up in her home town Shrewsbury, believing that if Terry could have gone into a place that helped him feel safe, without intrusive and damaging physical interventions, where people listened to him and gently helped him explore the roots of his difficulties, then he (and others like him) could recover from serious mental breakdowns. Whilst it saddened her that this never materialised, she got on with doing what she could as a member of a large number of patient advocacy groups. She was the first carer’s representative on the local mental health NHS Trust board and was on the planning committee for the first crisis house to be built in Shrewsbury. With her daughter Rosemary she helped set up the Schizophrenia Fellowship at Shelton Hospital.
Olive could be very funny and we had a lot of good times together. People would admire her immaculate clothes (purple was a favourite) and her thick silver hair. She only rarely confided that it was a wig – she had lost all her hair many years ago, due to stress. She told great stories about being a chauffeuse for the Royal Mail in the 1950s and she loved meerkats – filling her sitting room with them in later years. Her house became known as Meerkat Mansion and an Alexsandr Olav was sneaked into her coffin before her burial.
Olive will be badly missed by the many people who knew and loved her and by a psychiatric system that still has much to learn from patients’ and relatives’ accounts of harmful experiences of mental health services. She is survived by her daughter Rosemary and her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Latecomers win Pub Quiz Fundraiser
Two latecomers won a psychology in the real world pub quiz aimed at raising money for The Shrewsbury Ark, our local homelessness charity, having called themselves ‘The Late’ as they arrived after the start. John and Nicky Fraser had been busy at work – tree surgeon John had been pruning a yew tree in Belle Vue whilst Nicky was preparing her shop ‘Loam’ for its opening at Maws Craft Centre in Ironbridge – but they quickly caught up with the ten other teams competing for the first prize. Over 40 people attended the quiz at The Olde Bucks Head on Monday 9th April, many bringing prizes for the raffle, and over £250 was raised for The Ark.
Shrewsbury, like virtually all British towns, has a significant number of rough sleepers and homeless people, many of whom have suffered traumatic experiences in their past and whilst on the streets, and many of whom are struggling with mental health difficulties. All the people who came along, including several people from the Walk and Talk and Filmclub groups, enjoyed a fun evening whilst doing something constructive to help The Ark continue its work.
John And Nicky with their first prize
Zounish Rafique is leaving her NHS post in Shropshire and about to start work in Dumfriesshire. She co-facilitated Filmclub from 2011 onwards, having first attended Filmclub before starting work in Shropshire. She came on many Walk and Talks and set up a Walk and Talk group in Telford. She also co-facilitated Thinking about Medication and Women in the Real World groups, again both in Telford, which were highly thought of. She will be sorely missed. Dumfries Psychology Department are keen for her to pursue her interests in community-based groupwork so there are opportunities for psychology in the real world to spread to that part of Scotland. We wish her all the best for the future.
If anyone wants to help Nicki Evans and Guy Holmes run Filmclub in Shrewsbury please get in touch, either directly or via the website.
Guy Holmes has been recently made a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences, after being nominated by the President of the British Psychological Society. Others made Fellow of the Academy this year include the labour market economist Lord Layard and Guardian journalist and campaigner Gary Younge, as well as the psychologists Peter Fonagy and David Clark.
Announcing the conferment, Professor Roger Goodman FAcSS, Chair of the Academy, said:
“I am delighted that we have been able to confer a Fellowship on all these eminent social scientists. It is particularly gratifying to include a larger number of economists, policy makers and practitioners on this occasion. This is a result of our work to see representation from these areas increased to maintain balances between the individual disciplines and between academics and those working in the policy and practice communities.”