Voices from the Shadows: A selection of letters addressed to the World Health Organization 1994 - 2002
2004, ISBN 92 4 159245 1, bookorders@who.int

Foreword

WHO shows boldness and honesty in presenting these letters, care in organizing them and thoughtfulness in extracting the themes. Appreciative letters from those who write how they have been helped to some extent balance how difficult it is to integrate the experiences of altered states and manage one’s new awareness.

The denunciations (and what a strong word to choose) tell of what many who have experienced it see as a narrowly biological model of intervention forced upon them. Articulately and intelligently, the writers wish to rebut the presumption of a disordered mind and impaired judgment. Their words reflect a need to make sense of this shaming experience— sense based on each writer’s own insights. These insights are the perspective of the writer. Focusing on the letters with the assumption that the writer’s reality is true can open the reader to a more coherent and organized understanding of the material presented.

The set of theories and information letters reminded me that one obstacle to my own recovery has been lack of information. Information is critical to full community participation and for me it has been using information and communication technologies, the internet, that has created my recovery and strengthened my voice. I now know that human rights must also include communication rights. For communicating freely is fundamental in today’s knowledge societies. There must be universal access to information, including a strong public domain of information. Voices From The Shadows will contribute to that public information domain.

The dissemination of Voices From The Shadows illuminates those shadows. I expect that reading this publication will give others hope and permission to speak and will make it safer to disclose. Stories have become a staple of advocacy. We are encouraged to put a face to recovery. This WHO document also puts a voice.

Sylvia Caras
www.peoplewho.org