Saturday, May 19, 2007


The other day I had an email from William Schneider, Consumer Affairs Coordinator, Office of Consumer Affairs, Broward County, Florida about Dream Again Groups that are a pilot project of the Office of Consumer Affairs there. It got me to thinking about what I meant when I used those two words, Dream Again, all those years I spent advocating for folks like me in south Florida. I found a document copyrighted in 2000 by Novastar Opportunities for the Mentally Ill, Inc., a nonprofit corporation under which Project Dream Again, Dream Again Press, Dream Again Journal and Dream Again Groups were operated as well as funds provided to other nonprofit organizations, in which I defined what I meant by Dream Again. The document is a training manual titled S.E.A.R.C.H. A Natural Recovery Model.

The Introduction to this copyrighted document follows. I am the author.

“You have the right to know my biases before you begin reading these pages. I call myself a folk anthropologist because it sounds better than calling myself a consumer of mental health services or ex-patient of mental hospitals or a survivor of child sexual abuse. I could even make the case for having co-occurring disorders of bipolar I disorder with psychosis, substance-related disorder, dissociative disorder, and personality disorder not otherwise specified. That would give me three Axis I diagnosis and one Axis II diagnosis according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition. That means I would be quad diagnosed not just dually diagnosed. This may sound silly, but I do qualify for four different diagnoses. Which is primary? That depends on which day we are talking about and what period of my life. Labels, even as precise as those in the DSM-IV, may be a beginning point, but they are not the whole story. You are not going to get the whole story because this is not an autobiography. I just felt you needed to know that a person who is making life’s journey while learning to cope with madness wrote these pages.

Folk anthropology is the study of humankind using participatory research and education methodologies in order to draw from the collective intuition, experiences, knowledge and wisdom of all mankind. The American Anthropological Association does not recognize folk anthropology as a true subfield of anthropology: nor; do they recognize my definition of folk anthropology. Its direct application to the issues important to those of us who have been given a DSM-IV diagnosis is that it gives validity to our intuition, experiences, knowledge and wisdom. We do not remain merely the subjects of research and discussions, but we can participate as full partners. We have moved to the fron of the bus.

I was raised on a mission station in southern Africa. (Rhodesia now Zimbabwe) I served in the military during the Vietnam War. After twenty years in the business world, I helped form Novastar Opportunities for the Mentally Ill, Inc. N.O.M. I. ( pronounced know me) is a not for profit corporation dedicated to bringing more joy into the lives of my fellow sojourners.

My personal goal is more than merely becoming functional. I am not so sure that being functional in today’s world should be worn as such a great badge of honor. Maybe not fitting in is more moral, ethical and higher ground than fitting into an immoral, unethical and violent world.

That leads me to say that the goal of Dream Again is not functionality, but rather wellness by healing from the wounds of this world not by fully joining in the world’s madness. Welcome to Dream Again.”

I also would like to quote 3 of the 11 points of Novastar’s philosophy found in that same copyrighted document.

“2)Respect for the reality of others is the starting point for any relationship intending to facilitate healing and recovery even when their reality appears not to be based in one’s own understanding of reality or in the larger community’s collective understanding of reality.
5)That recovery is a journey that can be supported and facilitated by others, by that only the individual can determine the direction and destination of the recovery journey.
9) That peer support and self-help are both means of supporting and facilitating the recovery journey, but that a holistic approach also includes other modalities and technologies.”

Dream Again stood for embracing the person in the most natural way possible by respecting their reality and walking beside them on the pathway leading to their dream. Any concept that is in conflict with the statement in the preceding sentence is in conflict with Dream Again as presented by Ed Cooper.

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