Nev Jones is a mental health activist and a service user/survivor academic and researcher in the USA. She is a post-doctorate Fellow at Stanford University, founder of Chicago Hearing Voices (http://www.chicagohearingvoices.org) and co-founder of the Lived Experience Research Network (http://www.lernetwork.org) among others. Nev also has a blog entitled Ruminations on Madness ( http://phenomenologyofmadness.wordpress.com).
I was fortunate to meet Nev in September 2013 when she was in the UK doing research and speaking at conferences and seminars. The first time I met Nev (following some email communication with her) we spent a whole day together talking and also visiting the Bethlem Gallery at the Bethlem Royal Hospital in Kent.
The Bethlem Gallery was founded in 1997 by the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust to showcase the inspirational talents of artists who have experienced mental health difficulties. The second time I saw Nev she was giving a talk at the Institute of Psychiatry in London on mental health service user/survivor involvement and leadership in research.
I remember I warmed to Nev immediately when I met her. During our long and intense conversations I felt I could relate closely to some of her experiences of ‘madness’, discrimination and (self)-stigma, as well as to how these experiences had compromised profoundly her academic research career.
What particularly struck me in my encounters with Nev was what I perceived as her markedly sharp and critical thinking and -foremost- what I perceived as her healthy self-doubt and ambivalence when it comes to issues relating to the diversity and complexity of experiences of ‘madness’, which she was very open about…
I am thinking here that openly expressed self-doubt and ambivalence are qualities that seem to me to be rather rare nowadays amongst academic researchers who find themselves in an environment (i.e. Academia) where fierce competition and emphasis on individual success dominate…
Nev Jones is a philosopher and one of the most knowledgeable, perceptive and articulate people I have ever met when it comes to the philosophy and epistemology of psychiatry and service user/survivor research …nevertheless, I can recall when she was telling me how nervous she felt during her talk at the Institute of Psychiatry in London (a talk on philosophical and epistemological aspects of service user/survivor involvement and leadership in research), how strongly ambivalent she feels about the issues she touched upon in her talk, and how profoundly challenging it is for her when people assume, incorrectly, that the positions and views she embraces are necessarily of a definite, firm and unambiguous nature…
I recently came across a very interesting and engaging interview with Nev on Madness Radio. Madness Radio: Voices And Visions from Outside Mental Health is a regular FM show in the USA, hosted by Will Hall, ‘a survivor of schizophrenia diagnosis’ (as he defines himself), that ‘brings to its audience personal experiences of ‘madness’ from beyond conventional perspectives and mainstream treatments, and features survivors, authors, advocates, professionals, and artists’ (http://www.madnessradio.net). In the interview in question, Nev – among others- is talking about her experiences of ‘madness’/psychosis, her mother’s serious mental health difficulties and their impact on her, her struggles to return to academic study after she had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, the diversity and complexity of experiences of ‘madness’ and of the explanatory frameworks people use to make sense of them, as well as about mental health service user/survivor involvement in research.
The interview with Nev Jones on Madness Radio can be accessed from the link below