Medical doctor Tamasin Knight has previously received psychiatric treatment and went on to write the practical guidebook Beyond Belief: Alternative Ways of Working with Delusions, Obsessions and Unusual Experiences. The book queries and rejects the usefulness of traditional psychopathological labels and treatments. It argues instead for accepting the individual’s own reality and assisting them to cope and live with their beliefs.
“Lots of people have beliefs that others may consider to be strange, unusual or not based in fact, and there are many people in society who are living successful independent lives who have beliefs that meet the criteria for delusions.”
ENUSP [European Network of (ex-) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry] spoke with her:
Your book is about finding new ways to work with people with unusual belief systems. What made you want to write it?
“The initial motivation that made me want to do the research described in Beyond Belief came from my own experience of unusual belief systems and of receiving psychiatric treatment for this. I discovered that psychiatric treatment tended to focus on removing ‘abnormality’ and trying to make people ‘normal’ rather than focusing on what the person themselves wanted help with or considered important. I believed people should have a choice, and so I felt compelled to look for alternative ways of working.
I read about the work of Marius Romme and the Hearing Voices Movement. I found their approach of accepting the voice-hearers’ own explanation for their voices, and working within the voice-hearers’ own reality, to be inspirational. As a result, I decided to expand their approach to the experience of unusual beliefs and different ways of seeing reality.”
Did you have a specific audience in mind?
“I had three main audience groups in mind:
- People having problems surrounding unusual belief systems (who may or may not be users/survivors).
- Families and friends of people with these kinds of experiences.
- Mental health professionals (and students) interested in different ways of working.
Having said that, the book is for anyone interested in unusual beliefs and different ways of understanding the world …”
You can read more of this interview here.