Beyond Belief: Tamasin Knight

First Aired: 09-16-2009 -- 7 comments | Add comment
Tamasin Knight

How do we respond to bizarre beliefs like CIA brain chips, abduction by aliens, hearing voices, spirit possession, or telepathy? Is respect for a different reality “colluding” with a delusion? Or is there meaning in madness?

Medical doctor Tamasin Knight was hospitalized for delusions, and went on to write the practical guidebook Beyond Belief: Alternative Ways of Working with Delusions, Obsessions and Unusual Experiences, available as a free download at (PDF).

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7 comments on “Beyond Belief: Tamasin Knight

  1. The idea that whether or not one gets labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis being based on how fearful one is about one’s state of mind is very interesting, and quite useful. This, along with the reasons why folks fare better in less developed countries when they are hearing voices, raises interesting questions. We have little tolerance for what I call “thought process diversity” in the U.S., though no one bats an eye when surveys proclaim that 70% of all Americans believe in literal angels.

    I recall when I was a child that an elderly neighbor said she saw angels and demons, and sometimes they were a difficulty for her. The family simply said, “Oh, that’s grandma!” They laughed, and turned the television up louder when the devils were hounding her. No shipping her off to a mental hospital, no doctors. . .They were very religious, and a part of their belief system had to allow that it was possible she wasn’t delusional.

    I am a practicing Zen Buddhist; some of the states I naturally experience are assets, not liabilities, in this context. I am learning to stop fearing my consciousness, which may or may not be normative. Our definitions of what’s normal thinking seem to me to be dangerously narrow.

  2. Does Tamasin Knight actually have any articles in peer-reviewed journals on this topic? I see her medical degree is from 2007, which is fairly recent. While I’m happy she’s created a book on the subject, I’m disappointed by the scarcity and poor quality of the empirical evidence presented. It reads like it was written by someone without a research background. The qualification “medical doctor” seems very strange since it lacks any affiliation. I see a paper that has “University of Liverpool” on it in Google Scholar, but no email address or information about where or if this article might have been published. And it doesn’t read like an academic article. It’s really important to me that people who present themselves as authorities on a topic be clear about where their expertise is coming from. And personal experience with a topic is certainly a plus, but it is not sufficient. I’m really frustrated by the lack of scientific rigor surrounding this subject. If anyone knows something on the subject that is better (Rufus May’s stuff I know about, and he’s great… very clear about what he’s learned and from where and what is personal experience and what is coming from other data), please reply here to let me (and everyone else after me) know about it.

  3. Linked this article and a mention about Madness Radio to my Facebook page. Best wishes; Bob Levin

  4. Very inspiring show! Beyond Belief is absolutely wonderful! It is compassionate and empowering; foundational guidance for family members, friends and mental health workers especially. I think it should be required reading for all psychotherapy programs. Thank you for giving me hope for the services I aspire to provide. Very encouraging. I hope to hear more from Tasmin Knight in the future. Best wishes to all that you do in South America!

  5. Thankyou for being so brave and writing some cutting edge healing words to evolve the Mental Health System

  6. Thank you for making these thinkers and reformers accessible to us, presenting clear and easy to understand conversations that educate us. It helps to widen my understanding accross disciplines as well as value people’s well-thought-through, personal struggles against an unjust, badly founded MH system.

  7. Hi there, I appreciate your interest in academic research but the field is deeply biased against research following patient experiences. Absence of research reflects political and economic power not just empiricism or lack of evidence. As far as what research there is, I recommend you contact Tamasin directly, as well as head over to which has a good research portal, and start from there. I’d also encourage you to take a look at the research base for Open Dialog in Finland, which is achieving the best recovery rates for schizophrenia in the world using an approach that shares Tamasin’s point that peoples realities need to be heard and respected. Also Voice Dialog, discussed in several Madness Radio shows, also follows this principle, and is in wide use by people connected with the Hearing Voices movement. Tamasin is a survivor of psychosis diagnosis herself and primarily a health provider not a researcher. I applaud her courage and creativity. I’d love to see more research funding for patient experiences with new treatment approaches as you suggest, and at the same time I am also glad Tamasin is not waiting until that happens and is instead following what she knows works and spreadIng the word about it. This is especially true since Tamasin is a doctor and that rank often leads professionals to be more conservative and avoid innovative thinking and practice. — Will

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