Making a Real Difference - Beyond the Clinical Gaze

Jacqui Dillon

Despite the continued hegemony of the biomedical approach to madness and distress, there are profound and meaningful changes happening in the world of mental health, many of which are being led by experts by experience. By reclaiming our experiences and creating safe spaces to share taboo experiences, many of us have found healing, creative and revolutionary ways to resist the constraining effects of the clinical gaze which one is subject to during and beyond psychiatric treatment. ln doing this, we reach new, more accurate, richer understandings and stories about who we are. Instead of being a list of symptoms with side-effects on top, we are people who hear voices and see visions, have unusual thoughts, perceptions, passionate feelings, intense experiences (Dillon & May, 2003). In this talk, Jacqui will share her experiences of working with allies internationally, both experts by experience and experts by profession, to initiate profound changes in the way we understand and respond to extreme human experiences. By questioning the status quo, developing strategies for exploring resistance, exposing the operation of power, and most importantly, in creating healing alternatives, Jacqui will outline how it is possible to try and change the world and have fun in the process.