Comments from Attendees

August 2015 following Creativity and Madness Santa fe Conference July 27-31, 2015

I will not be able to name each presenter who touched my heart, inspired me to greater skill and commitment in my work as a counselor or who touched my creative spirit. I simply say to you THANK YOU for bringing such an array of wonderful people into my life. Gail M.

 I so appreciate what you have created with Creativity and Madness. Such a rich and powerful assemblage. Lynn N.

May 2015
I know of no other group/institute that shines the light of perception, gratitude and love in the universe the way AIMED does. It certainly changed my life in a way that was profound and centered…..and the truths I first saw in Van Gogh, Munch, Chagall (Barry, Joe Natterson et al) and others there have been steady and a “fall back” position for my PTSD through four wars we probably shouldn’t have been in..So great to share the journey with you guys!

My best, Ronald E Smith, MD, PhD

September 17, 2013
Dear Dr. Panter,
1 am writing to tell you some of what it has meant to my life to attend your Creativity and Madness Conferences. 1 have attended five conferences. The first was in 2002 and the last was in 2013. 1 am a Social Worker, creative, and interested in the spirit part of mind/body/spirit.

1 will not be able to name each presenter who touched my heart, inspired me to greater skill and commitment in my work as a Counselor, or who touched my creative spirit. l simply say to you, thank you for bringing such an array of wonderful people into my life.

Each year I was surprised beyond my expectations for the Conference. The first year I was astounded by leonard Shlain, Richard Kogan, lewis Mehi-Madronna, and Tom Balistrieri. Many of the speakers made themselves available for conversations in the hatlways during the week. Some of those conversations were the highlight of that year’s conference for me. I did the sweat lodges with Lewis each time they were offered. Those experiences were life changing for me.

Coming to the Conferences I have been touched by so many in the healing professions or artistic community who are wholeheartedly committed to the well-being of others and to the use of their gifts in the service of that well-being. I know that this has made me a better Counselor, better Spiritual Guide and better person. There is no way that what I pay to come to the Conference can cover what I have received. My offering to you and to the presenters who have given me so much is to aspire to their excellence and to the love they embody.

let me tell you of one experience I had the first time I came to the Conference. Though I love music, I have had little experience of live concert performances. Hearing Richard Kogan play that first time was life changing for me. I stood in a very long line that morning just to shake Richard’s hand and say ‘thank you’ from my heart. I had never heard music anything close to the beauty that I felt that morning.

About six weeks later, I wrote thank you notes to some of the speakers I had heard, including Richard. A few days later, on an ordinary Tuesday morning my phone rang. The voice on the other end said “This is Richard Kogan”. I thought. “Who is that?”, and since I paused in my response, he continued, “We met in Santa Fe”. (Not “I was the wonderful presenter you so much admired, but we met I) Richard continued, “I received your note and I want to say thank you for writing it. It means the world to me when what I do is meaningful to someone. Thank you for taking the time to let me know.” I said, “You are welcome. Thank you for calling.” And that was it.

Barry, do you know how hard it is for me as a social worker to get a call back from a psychiatrist about a patient we share? And Richard took the time to find my phone number and to call me with his appreciation. (Where do you find such people? I do think you are a magnet for them.) But there is a little more. I always come to Santa Fe early on Sunday to get my materials and hopefully to listen to Richard practice, which often does happen. This last summer I missed his practicing, but I saw him on the sidewalk outside the Conference Center and said hello. I told him a bit of what it meant to hear him play, especially that first time, and that it meant a lot to me that he took the time to call me that first year. He remembered and said that I had written on yellow paper and had unique handwriting which he remembers. (both true) We exchanged a few pleasantries and that was it. I told him that I would write to him about what his playing meant to my life, and I have included a copy of the letter I am sending to him today. I hope that I have expressed clearly that meeting Richard Kogan has been an incredible gift to my life.

Barry, that is only one experience, and while very important, not the only one. The presenters are generally very fine and always there are one or two whose presentations change me.(the young man with the video this summerl)

I can only manage to come to the Conference every other year because of the cost. I am now 75 years old and working part time, so this last summer may be my last conference. (I received my MSW when I was 50 years old, after raising five children.)

I have been much blessed by these experiences and I wanted you to know a little of how one person’s life has been enriched by the work that you do.

Thank you. May you be blessed as you have been the bearer of so many blessing for others.

In gratitude,
Gall Meyer

September 17, 2013
Dear Dr. Kogan,
This past summer when we chatted for a moment on the sidewalk outside of the Conference Center in Santa Fe 1 said that I would write to you about how hearing you play the first time I attended the Conference in 2002 changed my life. If you remember, after that first conference I wrote you a thank you note on yellow paper and you called me to thank me for letting you know what your music meant to me. Your call was so gracious and still warms my heart.

Attending that first Conference was quite a stretch for me financially, but I had a sense that this was an important thing for me to do. I did not know exactly why I was drawn to this Conference. I have now attended five times and have been blessed in many ways that I can identify and I’m sure in ways that are beyond what words can capture. What brought me to attend the first time remains a mystery, and if I do have an angel or some transcendent being guiding my life, this was one of the times I was led to exactly the ‘next right thing’.

1 enjoyed your presentation immensely. What changed my life was your music. I learned, not in my head but in my heart, that the music, the musician and the listener are all necessary for the music to be complete. I participated in the music you made happen. I cannot describe it any better than that. It was more than just listening as an observer. I was in the music. Does that make sense? It was a new experience for me. Until that day I had had almost no experience of fine live music, and so I was unaware of the power it had to touch me.

I love music and saw that all of my children had music lessons. There were ‘bands’ practicing in my basement for years. Three of my five children find playing music is essential to their lives, to their wellbeing. Two majored in music in college. I sang in church choir for years, but had never played an instrument myself. I have a piano. I fiddled with a harmonica. That was it.

After I heard you play I decided that I wanted to make music happen. I wanted to participate in music. I came home and bought a book of piano music and spent an entire year learning ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’. I am sure it is a simple version. Please understand that I am not talking about becoming an accomplished musician. I am talking about making beautiful sounds. Sometimes that happens. Over time I have come to believe that every beautiful sound adds something to the universe in ways that I do not understand, but it is good. It certainly adds something to my life to make music. I am not speaking of performance, but of making music happen. Perhaps without the presence of a ‘listener’ you would think the music incomplete, but I also am a listener, and for me that is enough.

Because three of my children play the guitar (and one trombone) I love the sound of the guitar. Five years ago my son helped me choose a guitar and I started attending a group lesson taught in the manner of the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. I enjoy folk music. I have participated in this class for about fave years now. Recently while visiting this son in San Diego I had a chance to play one of his better guitars and decided that a better guitar was in my future. To make the story short- I purchased a Martin OM42 (otherwise known as a VERY FINE) guitar. It is beautiful to look at, to hold and sooo beautiful to play. I have started taking private lessons. I love every minute that I am playing and making some very beautiful sounds part of the time.

I realize that making music is necessary for my well-being. It is a rare day that I do not play. I sing when I play. I tell stories in song and sing lullabies and occasionally there is a very beautiful thing that happens.

1 am a Social Worker and came to the Conference initially for my CEUs. I have received so much more than what was necessary to renew my license. I am a Spiritual Director and lead Retreats. Music is part of every presentation I give- not my music, but beautiful music.

As I write this, the words seem to be inadequate to express how my life has changed and been enriched by music since I attended that first Conference and heard you for the first time. The gracious person you are has added another level of pleasure to my experience of music, as I cannot separate who the musician is from the music they produce.

I can only manage to come to the Conference every other year because of the cost. I am now 75 years old and working part time, so this last summer may be my last conference. (I received my MSW when I was 50 years old, after raising five children.)

I have been much blessed by your life as it has touched mine and by your gifts. I wanted you to know a little of how one person’s life has been enriched by what you do. Thank you.

Now that I have written this, I am going to play my beautiful sounding guitar.

I hope that there is something in my life that I give to others as generously as the special gifts of your life have been given to me.

In gratitude,
Gail Meyer

Creativity and Madness opened new ways for us to be create our own Art. The conferences taught us a way to look at the Souls and Psychology of people who must create, sometimes at great personal cost. Elizabeth & Clem Nagel, PhD and MD

South Africa October 2012

Stimulates personal growth and professional growth – not only by attending conference presentations, but in between conferences in communicating with colleague on professional issues and opportunities for growth. This endeavor has developed a “community” for mutual advancement of education and professional growth.

I  have learned other ways to forgive and provide compassion.

The safaris and the trip to Capetown were very stimulating and energizing – plus they have introduced me to new ideas and creative solutions.

.…thoroughly being interested in your programs, finding them very stimulating as well as educational. Associating with people who are interested in learning. Mary Floyd

Summer Santa Fe, 2012

I have attended many Creativity & Madness Conferences over the years. I get from them something that I can’t get anyplace else. David Hill, PhD. Pennsylvania 

October 2011 – The Boston Conference

As a mental health professional in the field for almost 40 years, I’ve attended literally hundreds of conferences but have never been as absorbed and delighted with the topics and quality of presentations. I left feeling inspired.   Roberta Taylor, RNCS, M.Ed

I so appreciate  what you have created with Creativity & Madness. Such a powerful and rich assemblage of education and place. And, of course, fine food. It was a treat to sit in Santa Fe with Springsteen, Michelangelo and Mozart. Kudos to you for having manifested this series of conferences  Lynn Nicoletta, PhD,LMFT

 This is the most nourishing conference I have ever attended. Ruth Feldman, West Roxbury, MA

September 2011 Regarding the August 2011 Santa Fe Conference

“When I completed the evaluation information in Santa Fe I know that I didn’t fully realize the value of the week I spent at the conference in August. At that time I was evaluating the conference, as I would do when evaluating students presenting papers at the end of a semester. With that filter I found some presentations in need of more careful attention to the outlined objectives and think these shortcomings overshadowed the positive aspects. However I now think that approach was not entirely fair. Over the first few weeks following the conference, as I reviewed my materials and notes, I found that I brought home far more than I realized. I found so much information to incorporate into my university lecture material as well as into my planning for changes in clinical practice. I am grateful for the opportunity to be inspired by such a variety of individuals who shared expertise, experience and personal insights. I want to thank you for your continuing work that makes these conferences a great resource for growth as a person and as a professional.”   Dorella Bond, PhD.  Ann Arbor, MI

March 2011

Just wanted to thank you for what turned out to be the most positive workshop experience I’ve had as either participant or leader. The conference seems to attract a group of very dedicated professionals, seeking to become better at helping people, at least from the sample I got to know in the workshop.  David Bookbinder, LMCH

April 2010

How very much we enjoyed our time with you in Italy!  You went above and beyond in every aspect of the trip.  Your work behind the scenes smoothed the way for us in every possible way.  Your attention to detail made it the trip of a lifetime, and gave us more than we could possibly have hoped for or imagined.  I can’t thank you enough for your selfless devotion and efforts on our behalf, to provide us with the best experience possible.  It was a gift for our minds, bodies, and souls.

With great admiration and gratitude, Nancy & Vincent Zinke

AUGUST  2009

“Though I had heard that it’s wonderful, the conference truly exceeded my expectations. I learned so much and also was impressed by both the organization and the feeling of hospitality.”   Rosemary Daniell

“I want to say a million thanks for such a GREAT conference. I had a terrific week in Santa Fe. Frankly, I was totally blown away. When have I ever attended a professional conference where a presenter receives two standing ovations? And EVERY presenter deserved a standing ovation.”
Nancy Wiener

“Thank you! It was a pleasure to experience a very different venue. I value the diversity and positive energy and especially the attention to creativity.”
Leslie Hirschaut, M.D.

“Absolutely transformational..a week that went way beyond my expectations.” Deborah Wild

“This was the best conference I’ve ever attended.” Barbara Roodhuyzen

“What has this conference given to me over the years? It has changed my life.
I have learned that music is an experience, not a performance. I returned home and learned to play a Bach piece. It took a year as I have a piano and can read music, but have never had music lessons. My playing, I believe adds beauty to the universe. I don’t know how I came to believe that…. but the conferences have opened something in me that has continued to grow and flourish.
I now draw as a way of expressing myself – a new vocabulary for me.

This has been a path for deeper healing of my life. It has taught me to live my life as an experience and not as a performance. This has enabled me to guide others to do the same.

I invite others to do as I have learned – to live more fully and authentically, integrating all I have been with all I might become and celebrate the possibilities of that journey.

I hope you experience the fullness of my gratitude for how your conferences have enriched my soul and freed my spirit.”

Gail Mayer MSW

“In a country that pushes alcohol, guns and synthetic drugs this format offers alternatives to promote life and health.”
Doris Marie Garber LCSW

“I have become more in tune with my self and have become a better clinician because of what I learned at these conferences”
David Sachs, LCSW

“I have been to many other clinical conferences through the years, but this one is in a class by itself in terms of relevance, realism and compassion.”

“One of the most interesting and stimulating conferences I have attended in over 40 years! Overall the quality of presentations was outstanding.

“The authenticity and ability of the presenters to reach”my depth” was so helpful.”

“Every year is better and better!”

“I am grateful for what I have gained—valuable for me to be here.”

“It has given me personal insight.”

“This will have a great impact on my work with hospice and palliative care.”

“The conference gave me permission to practice in different ways and to explore new approaches and integrate new material into my practice”
Sue Lewis, LCSW

“THANK YOU! you are realizing your goals.”

“The conference was very well done and organized.”

“I am very happy and satisfied – thank you!”

“Absolutely rejuvenating, stimulating and interesting.”

“Great exposure into diversifed and approaches.”

“I am truly overwhelmed at the joy and insight I have garnered.”

“The conference is stimulating and not boring. It redirects me.”
Virgnia Blatchley, Ph.D.

“This is a wonderful thing you do! Do more of them!”
Mary Ellen Culver, Ph.D.

“They keep getting better!”

“My attendance at the conference helped me to tap into my “inner self” and to encourage creativity in others as well.”

“I appreciate and love the wide range off speakers that you invite.”

“The conference opens my mind and my heart.”
Catherine Meeks, ATR

“My first time at a C& M Conf. it was a wonderful and rewarding experiece in many ways. I will plan on making it a yearly experience. I look forward to the
next one.”

“The conference opened my eyes to different models to use for therapeutic intervention.”

BRIGADOON ©   by Jeanne S. Meisler, M.D. August 28, 2007

It’s almost magical
Once a year, for a week,
A thousand people come together,
In a magical place,
To listen to scholarly papers
On creativity and madness

The topics range from
Leonard Bernstein
To Sylvia Plath;
From Johnny Cash
To Woody Allen.

And a thousand people
Who, all year long,
Work to help struggling souls
Come to grips with inner demons
And make peace with themselves,
Assemble, listen and discuss
Consciousness and the unconscious,
What makes creativity flourish
And what stymies it.

The thousand bring their stories,
Life experiences,
Professional vignettes,
And, in a magical place,
In the American Southwest,
Extraordinary encounters take place,
Ideas are shared,
Souls bared.

Much is learned,
Much thought is engendered,
And beauty, natural and man-made,
Surrounds us.

Then it’s over
For another year.

Only eleven months
Until we can return again
To this (continuing education)
Brigadoon