Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Let's De-Label Life
By Patricia Lefave, Labelled, D.D.(P)
One of the main problems, as I see it, with those who like to define human problems in terms of "mental illness" is the tendency of most people, especially psychiatry, to view it in terms of nice, neat containment. The "identified patient" (meaning the individual within a group who appears to be the most "upset,") once labelled (and usually before that also) becomes the "subject," the "case," "the object of observation" and is seen and understood as if in isolation.
This isolation is manufactured by those who need to label everything in order to create containment parameters which allows the labellers to control the labelled. This is a co-dependent encounter of the extremely overwhelming kind. These problems though do not occur in isolation but in relationship to others, to events, to internal and external realities.
By "medicalizing" it, it has taken difficulties of interaction out of their genuine setting and reduced them to an individual's point of view, or, even worse, faulty body parts as the point of origin without relation to living life. It denies the human in ALL the human beings involved. This very real and severe problem is about boundaries to me. About Self AND others. I am affected by others and they are affected by me, one way or another for better or worse.
I agree the mind knows no boundaries but the body does. When we learn to identify well with EVERY other human being as though each were only another psycho-spiritual version of us, whether more or less integrated, we will stop abusing and being abused, stop acting out the things we aren't "allowed" to think, or say, or know, and we will change things. Really change things, not just suppress our emotions about them.
That was what the experience through psychosis was like for me. I thought and said at the time, "I am conscious inside the collective unconscious." I later saw it as a collective level of consciousness for some of us that included all of us who were altered...the state of one pointed consciousness. I knew that I would never be able to sort out the truth in all that chaotic detail (just as I couldn't in concrete reality) so I stopped trying to do that. Instead, I focused on the principle of mutuality. For a brief period of time in the hospital, I also heard the voices of what I decided was the collective "us."
So, I told the voices, "We musn't fight each other in an effort to get our ego boundaries back because the struggle just goes through ALL of us at the same time. We all want the same thing so to get that, we have to accept and know that we are "one" on the spiritual level, as well as "many" (unique individuals) on the physical level. If we all work together we can change the outcome."
Whether that was truth or "just" psychotic imagery doesn't matter much to me now. I would never be able to prove anything about it, one way or the other, anyway. I still believe though that this principle is true and works despite the fact that I was telling it to the spirit voices the first time.
So I agree that identification with others is what social organization is all about but ALSO that being unique is what ego structure is all about. We have to have both of those aspects of humanity at the same time to make life work; to achieve a state of real harmony. Both aspects of ourselves must be total and not partial and we can't have one without the other. When total it creates real intimacy, without the need for the smiling social mask. Without it we remain duplicitous creatures, constantly testing out positions to see if we are better or worse than someone else, even though it is irrelevant.
I must recognize all humans as my equals, born with the same value and neither more nor less. That is not to say that some of us aren't in a little better shape than others or a little less vicious. It only recognizes who we were supposed to be and can be again, despite the fact that we fooled both ourselves and others and slipped out of our natural serene state. When I recognize the natural state of all others as my equals, neither more nor less, do, I identify perfectly on a psycho-spiritual level as well as validate myself as a unique individual, which to me, is why I have a body in the first place. A body makes me an individual; NOT you; me.
In psychosis, I "explained" to other voices or spirits how to think of it like this so they could all get their boundaries back. I said then, "We start with the "I am". (Being) It is the details we add after that that makes us unique individuals." We can't control our collective being. All we CAN control, or are supposed to I think, is the individual identity we've been given. But if we ALL do that using the collective principle as the premise of our reasoning, we are eventually, going to control our collective being, one co-operative soul at a time.
Individuals will co-operate with a principle if it gets them something that they really want the most. I believe what we all want the most is the right to define ourSelves as individuals. I also believe it is possible to do so without the need to invalidate others in the process, especially by slapping labels of containment on our foreheads because it is easier, and more "cost effective" to do so, than to "waste" your time talking to human beings you need to define as your "inferiors" so that you can feel better about your own position, or value, in life.