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Paul Kiritsis announces the Winner of the Third Dorothea Dix Award

Paul Kiritsis - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

After considerable deliberation, Paul Kiritsis elected Disempowering Support by Stevie Wills as the winner of the third Dorothea Dix Award. The annual prize will be presented at the monthly meeting of the Jung Society of Melbourne in due course.

Disempowering Support accurately describes some of the pejorative and unjust collective attitudes propagated under the hegemony of a contemporary biomedical model which draws clear and sometimes rigid boundaries between illness and health, between flourishing and languishing. The entry was extremely evocative, illustrating the phenomenon of projective identification in a profound manner; lamentably, the underlying assumptions about the nature of organic and psychiatric illnesses in the prevailing sociocultural milieu has set up hierarchal relations between those identified as “healers” and those “needing to be healed.” The piece vividly illuminates the notion that all too often, health care providers will mimic automata and unconsciously play out these roles to the detriment of a self-sufficient, empowered individual who wishes to play no part in the disempowering and invalidating role ascribed to her. The inability of the health care provider to dis-identify from the social role of caregiver coupled with the collective opinion about dis-ease may in many such cases sabotage, hinder, or blunt the expression of an individual who doesn’t necessarily perceive herself as sick or disabled.    

When applied tactlessly and indiscreetly, labels are stigmatizing and deleterious. They are disempowering and come entangled with preconceived myths about the nature of illness, the prognosis, and what the trajectory of recovery might look like. Disempowering Support grappled with these themes whilst concurrently answering the question posed [Describe your experience with the contemporary health care system. What in your opinion are some of its major pitfalls? What needs to change for the sake of collective movement towards wholeness and psychospiritual health?] to considerable merit. It encompassed everything Paul was looking for replete with the spiritual stamp of integrity and authenticity.

Stevie’s entry can be read by clicking on Inaugural Winners under the Dorothea Dix Award tab.

Pictured above: Stevie Wills

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