Thursday, June 15, 2006

Therapy For The Planet

What Do We Want To Change?
How Will We Get It?

By Patricia Lefave, Labelled, D.D.(P)

There are some things I believe we can do to create change even with very little financial resources to do it. I believe we must be a true grass roots movement in the full sense of the term.

We need to use our wits, our brains, our ingenuity to become extremely visible as people, not "subjects" or "cases." I think the public invisibility is one of our biggest problems and it has been created by being pressured by the psychiatric establishment, and others, to be ''good'' little nuts and to remain silent. (or else)

This is about consciousness raising and there is always a backlash from it for awhile. The majority voice in anything always tries to maintain the status quo so we have to work around this expected and well experienced, resistance to the truth and try to change things in often, somewhat indirect, ways.

A labelled person I am aware of has decided to write a play about the experience which I think is one of the good ways to do that.
So, some other possible ideas could include:

More publicly displayed discussion boards for the psychiatrized who object to their diagnosis and experience, NOT for the satisfied "consumers." If we are to represent an alternate viewpoint, then that's what it should be. There are MORE than enough Sites and organizations for the happy consumer. They already get heard because they are supported by the psychiatric establishment's agenda of labelling drugging and control. I don't think we need to accommodate them at alternative Sites. Do they accommodate us?

I believe we need to create a clear division between one approach and the other. There is always too much ambiguity in this, which just happens to be something psychiatrists are taught to do. We need visibility as a clearly defined counter culture, never violent, but not always "nice" either. Any mental health professional who wants to do this with us must be willing to separate from the establishment view and be very clear about it, aiming at creating an alternate system which stands up publicly and states the intention to do just that. It is the public that needs to understand what it is like to get "treated" by being labelled, silenced, basically ignored and drugged after what is often a ten minute little chat with a complete stranger. The current system is flourishing largely because it operates in "secret" and mystifying ways.

We need to find a way to re-create Soteria House or Diabasis all over the world, but they cannot rely on, nor expect government support. Maybe non-profits? Co-operatives? Any philanthropists out there? As an extension of that, there should be patient/survivour support groups based upon equality of inherent worth and a belief in wellness, growth, and lots and lots of listening and emotional support with a minimum of judgement about the experiences of the lives of others which we did not share with those talking and opening up about it.

Perhaps we could take back the term "asylum" and give it back it's true meaning, only we could call them "sanity asylums," a place to escape, rest and recuperate from dealing with society's "normals." If alternate systems exist apart from establishment psychiatry, I think a lot of children will have someplace to go when in emotional distress without being drugged or labelled as "O.D.D."

We need anger expression rooms in the sanity asylums like Diabasis had in San Francisco. There "air-talk" would be encouraged as voice sharing would be allowed openly and calmly throughout the safe space of the house. It would be treated as meaningFULL not meaningLESS and the person sharing would be validated and guided through their conceptual imagery.

There are some things which may seem "far out" at first but deserve some consideration. Like this idea: I would like to see the creation of the "Crazy Choir." Yes. I am serious. It is to give the AUDIENCES some therapy. Maybe we could promote this worldwide too and charge for performances which could help to support our own transition houses. The songs we would sing would all have ''messages'' in them for those who are having such difficulty getting our messages by conventional means. (such as direct communication at face value)

We need to expose psychiatry's thinking and illogic as much as possible, everywhere we can. We need to Call nonsense, nonsense whenever it crops up as a new "'disease" requiring treatment.

We need to get going in the stand up comedy field because it is a very powerful tool for the non violent expression of anger and frustration, a way to show "normals" how ridiculous they look and sound to us which they refuse to hear otherwise. One can get away with saying some very politically provocative things if it is presented in the form of comedy. We should not be overlooking the collective power of that. It will help to break the public silence. Much of our ongoing problems are coming from the ease with which the currently unlabelled feel entitled to oppress and objectify us. It is always easier to do so to those not seen as real people like themselves, and since the system itself stifles complaint, it makes it easier to render us invisible. That has to change.

Maybe we should all start wearing our diagnostic labels on T-shirts. After all, if there is no stigma, there should be no problem. Would the public mock and ridicule diabetics and asthma sufferers? If there is no stigma, why should we fear anyone "finding out" who we are exactly? (of course, we understand something about that which our assessors do not )

We need to talk to each other everywhere; in malls, on buses, in the town square and the parks about exactly what it is like to be invalidated, controlled, mocked, ridiculed, observed and assessed. We need to share the experience of having these stupid conversations with the doctors, in their little cubicles, where they decide in ten minutes if something we have said is going to be evaluated as another "sign" signalling them that more forced drugging is in order, or even worse now, ''preventive'' drugging in case one of us may decide to go stark raving mad in the FUTURE and imagine we are being abused by some pillar of the community.

We need to point out that whatever we say is believed to be in need of "interpretation" and that it is generally done without any input or debate from us as we are considered to be unable to understand our own minds, lives and experiences without having someone to tell us what we mean; whether we want it "interpreted" or not.

We need to take the jargon back and expose it's meaning and also to use a language of difference, which can not be used in ambiguous abstraction and therefore be confused with conventional psychiatry. It has to be something concrete enough so that they won't want it because it can't be used in ambiguous ways.

If the alternate system can't be called anti-psychiatry or reform because they are too vague or there is not enough agreement, what could one be called in concrete terms and what is a base mission statement that would clearly define it? It requires a mission statement with a premise of meaning and action and an end goal in mind which sits on the same point. The mandala, or circle, or Pi form is a necessity.

The mission statement could incorporate believing in the possibility and goal of full recovery and wellness, without the use of drugs or a labelling system. It could be about promoting human equality, mutual respect, and personal empowerment of individuals who are also part of a psycho-spiritual community. (not one OR the other as is often the case in dysfunction) We need the basis of this therapy to be equality of being; nothing more and nothing less. It has to be the principle that matters, not the personalities, the status or the title. No more powerful/powerless relationship models.

We need to stop wondering if it is possible for everyone to be well and off drugs and just start AIMING for it as if it were a given. It is the goal that matters. How close we get to it may be a matter of individual strength, ability, and the willingness to complete the trip. Whether or not an individual decides to, or is ABLE, to go the distance should be an individual matter and an individual choice and should not affect the destination as a goal in any way.

We all need to be able to do this in a safe and supportive environment. I think it should be planned as a likely six to eight week residential withdrawal and renewal process. Maybe we could call the new system "Equalizing Therapy": talking and listening our way to collective harmony, while highly valuing our individuation at the same time. A therapy for the planet, rather than for ''us'' as opposed to ''them.'' For as ''we'' understand it, ''they'' need therapy as much, if not often more, than ''we'' do.

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