The Fritt Ord Tribute 2008
Arnhild Lauveng

The Freedom of Expression Foundation Tribute is to be awarded to Arnhild Lauveng for having torn down barriers in mental health care with her books.

Arnhild Lauveng for having torn down barriers in mental health care with her books. She is a wise, fearless professional who uses experience from her own personal case to see solutions that give rise to all-important hope. Arnhild Lauveng’s books have broken barriers in mental health care. She is a wise, fearless skilled expert who uses her own personal experience to recognise solutions that give rise to all-important hope.

Lauveng is the author of three books on mental health. The first one, “Tomorrow I was Always a Lion” (2005), is unique by Norwegian and European standards. The book has been sold in large print-runs and translated into a several languages for publication in a number of countries (the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Spain and Russia). The book “As Useless as a Rose” was brought to market in 2006. Published in spring 2008, “Worker Ant with a Heart of Plaster” is about mental illness and working life. There are plans to publish a fourth book about and for adolescents in autumn 2009. It will be about young people and mental health.

Arnhild Lauveng has a graduate degree in psychology. She works as a psychologist at the Kongsvinger Psychiatric Centre. Lauveng is a sought-after speaker at conferences, institutions and schools in Norway and the Nordic countries. Her forward-thinking message is spawned by her heartfelt interest in helping all those who suffer from mental illness.

Arnhild Lauveng had a diagnosis of schizophrenia for about 10 years. Today she is healthy. She uses her own painful experience of forced medication and isolation to talk about what brought her the insight, hope and strength to be where she is today. Thus she is an exponent for a large group of people whose voices are rarely heard.

In a review of the book “Tomorrow I was Always a Lion”, Tore Rem wrote: ”This year’s possibly most moving travelogue – a journey from the inner landscape of schizophrenia. Lauveng gives a sensitive, painful and humorous portrayal of her past as a schizophrenic. The absence of cocksureness is liberating. It should lead to more humility in respect of categorical diagnoses and our treatment of the mentally ill, as well as our view of our own rock-solid normality.”

Arnhild Lauveng describes her encounter with the treatment system and with the social services such as the police, rehabilitation counsellors and support contacts. She discusses what creates confidence, hope, dignity, change and recovery, and also what undermines and destroys. She points out what professional compassion and respect mean to those who are ill and who often experience rigid rules, oppression and internal struggles for power.

She breaks down barriers and is courageous when she speaks on behalf of professionals and patients alike about the importance of being seen and met with dignity and options. Her books and lectures lead to vivid discussions and conversations involving a variety of people. Arnhild Lauveng illustrates in actual practice how important it is to take advantage of freedom of speech.

The Foundation awarded the Freedom of Expression Tribute to Arnhild Lauveng on 17 December 2008.The tribute was accompanied by a crystal vase and NOK 50 000.