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"Reviving Our Interiors: Serving the Mentally Ill Living on Our Streets"

Last post 07-11-2007, 12:16 PM by tamgoddess. 22 replies.
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  •  03-08-2007, 11:30 AM 20297

    "Reviving Our Interiors: Serving the Mentally Ill Living on Our Streets"

    By Annie McQuade
  •  03-19-2007, 3:01 PM 20870 in reply to 20297

    Re: "Reviving Our Interiors: Serving the Mentally Ill Living on Our Streets"

    By Annie McQuade

         I have found the article "Reviving Our Interiors" by Annie McQuade to be an insightful portrayal of the plight of the homeless and mentally ill on the streets.  Her experience of putting herself in the streets as a homeless person for a week is one that sheds light on the inner life of a homeless person in a way that impacts and moves me.  Her analysis of the beneficial as well as problematical aspects of various first tier perspectives from a spiral dynamics viewpoint I also found to be quite insightful and meaningful.  This makes me interested in perhaps re-exploring my own artistic theory of mental disturbance from an integral perspective.  At any rate, I think that Annie's article is an excellent portrayal of the value of an integral perspective to the continuously disturbing plight of the homeless in our society.  The utilization of the four quadrants to understand the phonomenon of the homeless makes much sense in the way she portrays it.  I have learned much from reading her article and I would be very interested to hear what other people think about the problem of homelessness from an integral perspective.

                            Elliot Benjamin

  •  04-06-2007, 4:42 PM 21493 in reply to 20870

    Re: "Reviving Our Interiors: Serving the Mentally Ill Living on Our Streets"

    Hello Elliott,

    I remember our interactions from when you submitted your article. It is quite popular I noticed. I am not surprised.  Thank you so much for your thoughts on my article. I do appreciate them. I would like to open a discussion about this, and answer any questions people may have (if they are interested in that kind of thing). I'm available.  Most of all I am happy to see interest in the journal, and an integral approach to the plight of the mentally ill living on our streets.


  •  05-31-2007, 11:39 AM 23629 in reply to 21493

    Your Post on Integral World

    Hello Elliot,

    I just read your post on Integral World
    and enjoyed it very much. I appreciated your call for us all to remember our depths and just how deep we all are, and how deep this life can be.

    I also saw that you mentioned my article. I am really glad that it moved you. I wanted to quickly respond to your post. I don't have a lot of time, but a few thoughts to start...But before I do, let's be clear--I am not representing Wilber or II. I don't know how they would respond and any mistakes I make in my interpretation of the model are solely my responsibility.

    Here is a quote from your post, just so others can follow along if they wish,

    "When reading Wilber's books that describe his four quadrant approach, he repeatedly stresses that one quadrant is no more important than any other quadrant [7]. This equalitarian philosophical principle has extended into the integral psychology realms regarding an “equal” appreciation of all systems and psychotherapies for clients with various symptoms and needs, in order to give a client the psychotherapy treatment that will be most effective. Thus there is no priority or hierarchy or ranking of psychotherapies; humanistic, behavioral, cognitive, psychodynamic, transpersonal, pharmacological, neuropsychological, family systems, existential, nutritional, etc. all have equal merit for integral psychology. "

    I would frame this slightly differently. It is not that all modalities are equal. I would say that all quadrants must be paid equal attention to in effective psychotherapy. And methods arising from the perspective of each quadrant have their own validity claims. They can be ranked against other methods within their respective quadrant, but you really can't compare apples and oranges (which is the equivalent to comparing methods or injunctions from, say, the UL to the UR). So you can't really equate methods from different quadrants, but they all form part of the puzzle.

    And I believe there is a ranking, a hierarchy, but first...

    Later you discuss your longing for a psychology that addresses depth...

    "For me, this kind of humanistic vision includes the existential realities of our tragic human predicament that death looms large for all of us who choose to think about it, as well as the transpersonal realm that has the possibility of experiencing transcendental states that could even transform our notions of the meaning of death itself."

    I couldn't agree more, and yet I think our longings to explore the human predicament arise only at a certain LEVEL of development--and this is where the integral model has been so helpful for me as a clinician. It is at green and beyond (in SD terms) that we long to understand the human predicament, but as a clinician who has worked in social services, particularly with psychotic people living on the street, I can't conclude that they are interested in the same exploration (unless of course they tell me). This was the crux of my article... my intention to actually understand the interior of my client, so that I did not overlay my interior on theirs.

    So there is a hierarchy of appropriate methods for clients at different levels of develop with attention to all quadrants

    I would love to hear your response.

  •  06-07-2007, 2:34 PM 24159 in reply to 23629

    Integral approach to Homelessness

    I found this article to be interesting for several reasons.

    1)  I agree with the author's assertion that "any socio-economic policy for the homeless that does not account for the interiority of those it is designed for is destined to be ineffective."  I believe an example of this is- it is important to remember that not all homeless are severely mentally ill.  For example, a huge number of emancipating foster youth become homeless on their 18th birthday.  Many of these youth might not be mentally ill  - just in need of some moral support and financial resources.  But we need to look at their interior to determine what approach to take. 

    2)  In the author's discussion of the level of values development of the service provider, I appreciated the discussion of blue/ orange/ green approaches to social service.  When I was a social worker, I worked for and with individuals at all three of these levels, and found it to be challenging.  For example, it was difficult working under an Orange Executive Director who demanded that we increase our "numbers", i.e. the number of people technically enrolled in our program, with no concern as to the amount or quality of service we were actually providing to the clients.  (His theory being, the higher our numbers, the more grant money we could get in the future.)  Similarly, it was sometimes frustrating working with green female co-workers.  I remember finding our "staff meetings" challenging, because we never got anything done!   (Does anybody remember what video or audio talk KW discusses the gender difference when it comes to meetings and attacking a problem? I seem to remember something about how men will get the job done, then go out for a beer, while the women will sit around and bond, and never get around to fixing the problem.) 

    Another thing I noticed about Green social service providers is a lack of focus on evidence based practice.  They seemed to like implementing programs that made everyone feel warm and fuzzy, with no regard to whether the program actually worked! 

    I am a very policy oriented/interested person- I would love to see an example of a totally NON integral policy that addresses homelessness or any other social problem, compared with an integral policy that deals with the same issue.
  •  06-07-2007, 3:49 PM 24165 in reply to 24159

    Re: Integral approach to Homelessness


    unlike the three of you, i am a layperson, who just happens to have read the aqal journal articles by the first two of you. i think you have begun what could be a wonderful conversation, one that it's probably best i allow you to proceed with, as i very much hope you will, without much interruption from me.

    to me, this is one of the great promises, as well as challenges, that an integral approach makes possible. without something like aqal, i imagine it would be very difficult for the first two of you to collaborate, even while recognizing the great need for collaboration. and, inevitably, we lose, when we have psychotherapeutic approaches that cannot work together.

  •  06-07-2007, 8:08 PM 24179 in reply to 24159

    Re: Integral approach to Homelessness

    So glad that you wrote something!

    Your comment about green meetings (and perhaps a feminine style) is hilarious. Only it is not hilarious when you have to sit through them (I see that you can empathize).  I can't stand those kind of meetings, and completely agree with you on the need for evidence-based protocols. You hit some of the limitations of that world view on the nose.

    I have never claimed to be the feminine spokesperson, but I hope that those kinds of meetings are more green than they are feminine. We can be more process oriented, but process ad-nauseum has got to be a diagnosable diesease! :)

    In all seriousness, considering that the number of individuals coming into or who are at green, inefficiency of this type will only continue. Now that I work in full time in the health care sector, I see directly the extreme inefficiency of those organziations with a dominant mode of discourse at green. It is all meetings, and what is worse, meetings without objectives!

    I've been a part of the numbers game too, which may very well be an orange strategy (I liked how you saw that), but it also may be lack of a strategic vision, and so the leader ends up chasing funds and numbers instead of proactively creating a strategy to draw funders. Who knows, but it is difficult to work in this area and have to churn the numbers. When I did this type of work I often felt like I was trapped in that one episode of Laverne and Shirley where they get that job at the chocolate factory and are trying to wrap chocolates on the conveyor belt and they can't possibly get to all the chocolates. It was a classic episode, but when applied to serving humans, it takes on the quality of a sad tragedy. But that sad tragedy is the reality we live in... and how do we deal with it?

    I mean it is great to work toward change (I love to get things done), but I also spent a good deal of time trying to deal with the reality that was handed to me... to do the best in the conditions allotted.

    If you don't mind me asking, elrichards, how did you deal with your own thoughts and interiors when you did this kind of work?

    thanks a million,


  •  06-07-2007, 9:18 PM 24183 in reply to 24165

    Re: Integral approach to Homelessness


    I am sure you have a lot to add to this discussion.  Who says you are interrupting? It is not like this is the dialogue superhighway, I mean, there are only four of us who have even responded (with weeks between posts). Join In! What do you do? Where do you work?

    And I think you are right about how the AQAL model allows us to collaborate. It is a great point, that I have missed.

  •  06-09-2007, 1:42 AM 24257 in reply to 24183

    Re: Integral approach to Homelessness

    hi annie, elliot and el,

    i'm not quite sure how to begin. if i only had your facility with aqal, annie, i could trust it completely to guide me. worse yet, the past two days i've been reading the blogopalooza thread at the zaadz i-i pod, a good part of which became a heated discussion cerca joe perez's blog, in which he mused about the 'psychic'.

    my own feeling about the psychic at this point is that i don't know, so it's best i don't ask myself about this, remove myself as much as possible so that the kosmos itself can speak to me without my interference. to the extent i'm successful in doing this, i hear something strange and unfamiliar to what i'm accustomed to, that i suspect is somehow related to what is called the psychic. my confidence was increased by what joe perez had to say, much of which resonated with my own recent experiences.

    i'm not expecting any of you to believe one way or another, although, elliot, i'm aware that you have expressed a certain amount of skepticism about matters more or less of this nature, and that's perfectly ok. i just wanted to get this off my chest, because it still is something strange that i don't pretend yet to understand, but it's happening right before my eyes with increasing frequency, and i simply can't ignore it.

    i hope you'll bare with me as i proceed with some examples, which, strangely enough, involve each of you. first of all, el and i both live in portland. it could be just one of those coincidences, although i seriously doubt it was pure chance: the population of portland is something like 0.3% of that of the u.s. from my perspective, not knowing el in any way i can possibly think of, this is a little strange.

    elliot and i know each other, btw, as a consequence of the article on integral mathematics by him, which was published in issue 4 of aqal journal earlier this year. in partial answer to your questions, annie, i have a phd in math, although i'm not presently employed in that capacity. i began a correspondence with him vis a vis his article on another thread. we have been the only contributors to that thread. we both happen to be interested in integral psychology. i guess the 'integral' part is understandable, given that we're both interested in integral math. but psychology and math? how many math phd's are interested in psychology to the extent of elliot or myself? i suspect it's a small portion, although i could be wrong. in any case, we both read your aqal journal article, annie, and both liked it very much, to the extent, if i remember correctly, that we both praised it on yet another thread devoted to volume 1 in general. this would also explain why elliot introduced this thread.

    if we looked into the coincidences between el and myself, and between elliott and myself (and perhaps there are others between the three of you that i wouldn't be aware of), we could no doubt arrive at 'reasons' for them. what level, what worldspace (cf. app. 2 of 'integral spirituality) could we assign to these 'reasons'. my suspicion is that, with ken wilber's help, say, we could shoot down any assignments at less than indigo. we might have some trouble seeing why turquoise 'reasons' wouldn't suffice--i guess that's the grey area for where i'm now at.

    so, anyway, that's currently on my mind: just some coincidences about this thread. there are others, for example, annie also mentioning joe perez on another thread in the last couple of days. orange would no doubt say it's pure chance. obviously, i have to be careful about PTFs, but i suspect that the worldspace i've been constructing the past couple of years, which i guess is turquoise, is beginning to look a little shaky.

    i wanted to get this out of the way to begin with, so that it won't affect our discussion. if any of you want to pursue this any further with me, we can do this separately from this discussion. if not, no problem.

    elliot, i've also read the 'integral world' article you provided a link for, and liked it very much. i think we determined that i'm close to a decade older than you. you certainly have explored psychology much more than i had, but my sense of your altitude is more or less what mine was at your age. and i think we're very fortunate that el and annie have joined in on this thread you've started.

    hoping to hear from all of you,


  •  06-10-2007, 7:36 PM 24380 in reply to 24257

    Re: Integral approach to Homelessness

    Hey Ralph,

    I would love it if you could provide a link to the discussion on Zaadz so we can reference it for our discussion here.

    I don't doubt the validity of your experience, and really when these experiences happen it always seems like more of a feeling than a reason, doesn't it? In transrational states, reason doesn't really cut it, does it?

    I don't know if you are interested in my experience of these things, but I just sort of resist the tendency to determine them at all. So much happens in this life, and I honestly don't know why. Why am I here? I don't know. I am not trying to be cute, I am serious. How did I get here? Dunno? Why have we met? Beats me.

    Some might say that is an answer stemming from the absolute side of the street (I am rarely accused of such things), but I feel like it is an answer more on the relative side of the street. I really don't know.

    I know a lot of things, and have a lot of maps to understand so much, but when it comes to these types of perfectly legitimate experiences, they really do seem more like feelings to me, awarenesses, subtle hints at something deeper that I can't quite pin down, and I just enjoy them for that. Something that I can enjoy, delight in even, and can't quite pin down.

  •  06-11-2007, 12:19 AM 24390 in reply to 24380

    Re: Integral approach to Homelessness

    Why am I here? I don't know. I am not trying to be cute, I am serious. How did I get here? Dunno? Why have we met? Beats me.
    i'd say that's coming more from the finite than the infinite side of the street. obviously you have better things to do than being some rodinesque thinker!

    i just wanted to get that off my chest, and the blogopalooza was an interesting (gen x, i would say) event, which, if you're curious, you can find a link to at the beginning of tim melody's june 4th blog at joe perez's contribution is may 26, 1:54am, almost a third of the way down the zaadz thread. tim's is well worth reading as well (i've already commented on poor tim's lost last word in an i-i commons thread :)). come to think of it, it's quite relevant to the discussion you and elliot have begun. one of the real difficulties i've had most of my life, it seems, is not being able to comprehend that many others simply aren't able to see what i can see, for example in mathematics. aqal has helped me alot in that regard.

    great 'talking' to you,


  •  06-11-2007, 12:31 AM 24392 in reply to 24179

    Re: Integral approach to Homelessness


    I'm glad you found my comments about the green meetings to be amusing.  :)

    Re: how I dealt with my own thoughts and interiors when I did social service work- I suppose I could say I gave up on social work and ran to law school.  But that is only a very partially true answer.  (I had been debating between getting an MSW and a JD for some time.  After one of the endless, pointless, agenda-less meetings, I decided on the JD.  A few years have gone by, I have one year of law school left, and I will be getting an MSW after my JD.)

    Your question about how I dealt with my own thoughts and interiors, however, is a broad one so I am not quite sure where to begin.

    I have to admit that I did not deal with my frustrations with the social service system as well as I could have.  When I was working in social work and experiencing the things I described above, I was in my early/mid 20's and still had much to learn about dealing with people.  (Only a few years have gone by since then, and I still have much to learn.)  Back then, I had unrealisticly high expectations of those around me, and my frustrations with the failing social service systems bothered me a great deal.  I am now much more understanding of the reality of what people are capable of, and our limitations as humans, and thus not so easily frustrated.

    I was also fortunate to have a great deal of control over the social service program that I ran.  My co-workers and even supervisors really had very little actual effect on what I did on a day to day basis.  It was just a little frustrating when we did have to work together. 

    One reason that I found it to be important to monitor my own interior was to ensure that my interactions with my clients were conducted in a way that served their needs, and not my own. 

  •  06-14-2007, 11:30 AM 24527 in reply to 24392

    Re: Integral approach to Homelessness

    Hey Elizabeth,

    Well, you certainly are busy. Congratulations on all that you have accomplished. Sitting through school can be (mostly) very difficult. I guess it all depends on the professor.

    You were fortunate that you had control. The lack of control that I had as a volunteer was a source of further suffering for me. I worked with different people, all well-intentioned, but some were hard to swallow. I worked with an ex-nun, whose center of granity hovered at blue and she was very punitive. She could suck the joy out of a room from 5 miles away.... and everything was a challenge to her authority. Because I understood where she was (based on whatever understanding of development I have), I was one of the few that did NOT threaten her authority, but I had to work at it.

    This created another interesting dynamic, at least from the perspective of group dynamics. I could rarely directly confront any decision she made, and had difficulty enforcing her rules (because they seemed less about order and more about punishment). To be clear, I don't have a problem with punishment when it is due, she was more the "preemptive punishing type." But, at the same time, I would not go behind her back and do things differently as it would split the staff and make me good cop (and her bad cop), which never works. So I would often enforce her rules with as much dignity as I could afford the client. I would try to detoxify the punishment, and set forth the rule. But we certainly were never alloted a space to also have fun, which is a big, fat bummer.

    So a thorough AQAL approach involved margharitas. My favorite.

    Anyway, blah, blah, blah...


  •  06-14-2007, 3:59 PM 24533 in reply to 20297

    Are you Blue about Integral?

    I've recently been watching re-runs of Sex And The City (I've had the flu and I love Carrie Bradshaw, her friends, and her clothes). I also wouldn't mind her schedule. She hardly ever seems to work. Anyway, she always writes these silly columns that end with a question. I had a question of my own this week, "Are you Blue about Integral?"


    Have you ever noticed that when you disagree with someone suddenly they are integral and you are not (or vice versa)? I find that particularly hilarious. They usually base their assessment on a statement or a behavior (accurately or not). But behaviors and statements do not necessarily reveal our interiors or our motivations for our statements and behaviors. The appearance of things may not be how they actually are. Like in Kohlberg and Gilligan’s moral dilemmas—different levels of development sometimes responded similarly, and that is why they pressed further. Why do you say that? What do you mean? Tell me more… because they were interested in people’s interiors.


    And if you don’t take that extra step, if you don’t press further, it is reductionism in developmental garb (I believe Wilber fans love the term “flatland”). It is an assessment that says, "What I see is what you are" (which in some cases may be partially true), but it is an assessment tool that excludes depth. Personally, the only reason I ever decided to join life (about two years ago) was because of the depth that it breathes, so I am not all that interested in these kinds of assessment tools. (Is there not some integral fan in the wings to tell me that these assessment tools must have their place?)


    I hate to sound bitter, but I’ve met a lot of people interested in the Integral vision, and precisely because we are interested I am sure we all want to see it enacted correctly, and then we proceed to tell you all the things that are not integral about… so and so and such and such (fill in the blank). And btw, don’t get them started on the things wrong with the integral institute. As for me, I have so many things wrong with myself that I don’t need to worry about I-I’s problems, or even the lack thereof, I have enough personal material for a lifetime (and left overs if I die tomorrow).


    So what is this desire to enact the “true blue” integral vision? Of course, there is a difference between theoretical accuracy—that is fun to argue for days—and enacting a vision in a fundamentally “blue” way.


    So tell me, great multiplex of the universe, what is the difference? I have some thoughts but I am already boring myself. Let’s hear from you.


  •  06-14-2007, 4:08 PM 24534 in reply to 24257

    Re: Integral approach to Homelessness

    Ralph, I am replying to your post to Elliot and all of us. At the end you say, "my sense of your altitude is more or less what mine was at your age." I have to say, I don't quite know what to make of that statement. Why do you say it?

    You may have some reason or intention for saying it that I want to understand...


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