How we Heal and Recover: Our Dreams, Language & the Power of Transformation

How we Heal and Recover: Our Dreams, Language & the Power of Transformation

Words can move nations to war and enact peace between bitter, long-standing enemies. Words are the most potent metaphysical device in our world. I am a believer in the power of language. I always had a relationship with languages and how words work. At the end of my college time, I put together a plan for my life ahead. After reflecting, and more contemplation, the idea materialized. I would apply to graduate school, and one day, become an English professor. I would spend my life engaging with young minds and cultivate new transformative uses for language for students to bring to the world outside of academia. 

When my psychosis became unmanageable, I lost not only my voice but my capacity to use language effectively. I could no longer convey my thoughts in a manner that was meaningful enough for others to understand.

They call it “word salad.” Sometimes “soup.”

Depending on the medical or psychiatric conditions, there are different words to define what is truly happening to a person’s speech. For me, loss of language was one of the most challenging aspects of my recovery. Not only had I lost a personal battle of entering a graduate English language program. Now, my illness disabled me from pursuing my core passions and life’s dream. 

Dreams inspire us through the unconscious spaces and far reaches of the imagination. In doing so, we see beyond our realities.

A decade ago, because of my new disorder, my life’s circumstances had changed. While my language loss was acute and temporary, it would be a slow uphill battle before years of learned knowledge would return. Ultimately, it was the power of dreams to transform my reality and create a fresh way of understanding the world that allowed me to heal and grow stronger. My recovery was more than reversing damage to the body. The transformation allowed me to heal. My dreams helped me redefine the very limits of my disorder. 

My dream is no longer to become an English professor but to work with language on a deeper level. I want to create a new language to understand health better and treat people’s mental health conditions around me.

My dream, now transformed, is as real and vital as the very moment I set out in a language world. My desire to turn my dreams into a reality is what I am thankful for today.

Rhetoric in its most platonic form is the most potent mechanism for transformation. In my most symptomatic days, I wrote a paper on transformative pathways for the evolution of power to wield language to manifest both good and evil in the world. To create and to destroy, heal & recover people from their most tormented realities.

I have the power to transform my dreams into a new language and gift it to others to choose to move forward with their healing and recovery.

Will you choose to heal or choose a life of pain and mental despair? 

Believe in your dreams & your power to be the person you can be through the transformative power of healing and recovery.

Edited: Autumn Tompkins

J. Peters

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association. Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia. "I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others." "In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."

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