Friday, December 15, 2006
Awareness Exercise for Professionals in Training
By Patricia Lefave, Labeled, D.D. (P)
I am suggesting this exercise to psychology students who really want to understand what it is like to be defined as inherently defective.
You like experiments? Good. Let’s try this one as a change of pace.
Stop thinking of yourselves as observers of the specimens and start thinking of yourselves as BEING the specimens under observation. Join me as one of the ‘fascinating cases.” Did you feel just a small ping of something uncomfortable when I said that? If so, there may be some real hope for your therapy here to work.
Join an Internet support group in Canada, the United States, Britain or Australia which supports and promotes the bio-medical model of psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, preferably one which includes some psychiatrists (at least one) psychologists, friends of ‘the mentally ill’ and their relatives and of course, the labeled people themselves of which YOU will represent one. Be sure to pick a support group that is psychiatric establishment, preferably recommended by NAMI or Fuller Torrey, M.D. in the states and is full of true believers in the bio medical model.
Join this group as a labeled person, explaining how you got your label in the first place. Tell them that you ‘claim’ you were being abused by someone, in or outside your family, for example, and that no one would believe you or help you. Tell them a group of other joined in the abuse. Don’t worry about being found out as a fake as this is such a common ‘story’ that you will blend right in. Then tell them that when the psychiatrist didn’t believe you, he told you that you had one of these bio chemically based ‘diseases’:
Schizophrenia, (paranoid or affective type), Bi-polar disorder, Borderline Personality disorder, or Delusional Disorder (Paranoid, like ME)
After you have done that, just talk and relate to everyone in the group just like you would always do anywhere else with anyone else, as your every day perfectly ‘normal’ self.
Now see what happens and how others in the group relate to you. Respond to every answer and suggestion to you, exactly the same way you normally do, being fully yourself, and don’t make up anything beyond the premise of the experience you stated you had and the diagnostic label you were given for that. In other words, behave in a perfectly normal manner at all times after that.
As you do this, keep a separate evaluation of your own experience and your feelings about it, in a daily journal as they come up.
After you have participated at least once a day, for at least six months, gather all of the information on your experience and share it with a group of others who do the same. Compare and contrast your experience as a labeled person. Discuss openly what you noticed about tit hat you may never have noticed before and what you have learned about yourself and others because of it.
Next, write an essay and how it sounds and feels to you now from the identified patient’s perspective on the same reality as opposed to your previous view as as a supposedly objective observer OF a labeled person.
I have a pretty good psychic prediction for you.
If you do this, being your fully open and honest selves, I believe you may find that once past the original premise of your experiment and the self labeling you gave yourself for it, you will find that you now feel a whole lot more empathy and connection with most of the labeled people than you do with the ones DOING the labeling.
It is actually true that reality is that which you experience, so experience this. When you do, that much loved and promoted abstraction, “There is no reality only perception,” may start to sound like one of the stupidest ideas you’ve ever heard.
For those of you who do learn empathy, you may just become the ones to understand how to turn this mechanistic monster of a mental illness system off and start to turn on to a new system which you help to build aimed at equality, mutuality and mental health for everyone.