Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Dialogue: Part 2

Topic: The Psychiatrized/Psychiatrist Relationship
By Patricia Lefave, Labelled D.D. (P) and Rob Wipond

Rob: I agree with most of what you say. But it seems to me that you have not really addressed the real issue I was raising, and question I was asking. I will try to highlight a few of the things you said which do connect with what I thought I was asking.

You said, "If you, as a "sane" person, are confused about something, the assumption is there is something to be confused about."

I disagree. It is not always that way at all. Often, people will say to a confused person, 'You are stupid,', or 'You weren't listening', or 'You're lying'. For example. Right? This is very important. And even if I've never been labelled before, today might be the day they look at my confusion and say, 'You're crazy.'

So people's feelings, beliefs, emotions etc being discounted, even ridiculed, is a common occurrence in everyday life for all of us. Just read how American conservatives and progressives write about each other in opinion columns, for example. It's often very brutal.

I would also say that I see in your arguments above a tendency to define the psychiatrized/psychiatrist dynamic as fundamentally different than other relationships. I'm not sure that's true. Yes, the power issue is real and huge. But power is a significant part of everyday life, too. A very significant part. For everyone. Look at the poverty out there, the victims of wealth.

"What if the psychiatrized person's convictions are really right and don't need questioning?"

A lot of people think that, often. Psychiatrists think it, psychiatrized, everyone else. Do you think people in this world are more likely to be deep questioners, or deep believers? And with your answer in mind, how do you think that fact has affected how people go 'crazy' in our 'crazy' world, and influenced the rise of forced psychiatry?

And when does anything or anyone not need questioning?

And then you describe this:

"When we are breaking down, our minds go into this high gear, attempting to sort out all of the contradictions of the event before we lose ourselves completely. There is a need to escape; a panic if we cannot while more and more pressure we cannot bear is applied in the name of "help." We KNOW there is information missing which we need to understand it; but we can't FIND it. And no one helps us to do that. It is quite the contrary."

Okay, this is what I was really asking about, right here. This process. What are the mechanisms that are going on? Because it is during this process that I frequently see intelligent people driving themselves directly towards psychiatrists. Can we unpack this series of events, and figure out, regardless of how crazy one is or isn't, how to prevent people who 'know better' (i.e. know how fundamentally decrepit our mental health system is) from ending up under the thumb of a psychiatrist in the hospital?

You see, for me the key to this is that many of the most important elements of 'going crazy' (in this case meaning a series of internal and external events leading up to psychiatric hospitalization) develop long before the psychiatrist/psychiatrized relationship ever comes into play. I'm suggesting, maybe if we can deal with some of that, in the ordinary, daily world, we can prevent the rest of the nightmare in hospital that we all know so well.

Pat: My next answer will be an attempt to focus on that. Coincidentally, I ran into a psychiatrized person since we have been talking about running head long into walls. It caused me to look at what she was doing as others were most likely to see it. I posted a short piece about that on my other blog, Quantum Spirits: Getting Skunked.

All right Rob, let me try to clarify the difference between being the labelled and the non-labelled. As previously, I will probably answer more than you were really asking, or perhaps, not enough on the points you wanted to address. Bear with me as I have a lot to say and tend to sometimes go on longer out of my passion for the subject than many were expecting. Feel free to zoom in on any points I make that are of particular interest to you and to skip over those that don’t grab you.

You are hearing something that is true as you point out. That is the fact that
we are all basically the SAME, whether we are the labelled or the non labelled, which is NOT understood by psychiatrists, families, friends and the general public. We who are labelled generally know that. Those who are not labelled generally see a great ‘difference.” This is the nature of the problem.
The labeling itself suggests a fundamental difference between us that does not really exist. That is what is really ‘fabricated’ and that is one of the points I am trying to make.

It is one thing to be called ‘stupid” or to be told you are lying when you are not labelled. It is a whole other reality to be judged the same way, when you are labelled. If you are not labelled, those comments may be judged, erroneously to be your character traits, and perhaps sometimes, with some people, they ARE just that. If that is where it stops, your personal life may not change at all or be only minimally affected. If you have a label though, or someone is looking to perhaps plant one on you, you may well find yourself on the receiving end of some kind of unwanted ‘treatment’ for those flaws of yours, which will profoundly affect every aspect of your life. Soon after that, you may discover, to your horror, that everything you say and feel about what is actually happening to you, is being heard by your assessment team as the expected ‘signs’ of that ‘disease process’ they are soon going to be telling you you’ve got. It usually takes awhile until the identified patient recognizes what he or she is caught within. Once you have entered through that metaphysical doorway, dealing with the system is like dealing with a stimulus-response machine. They are so used to hearing the WAY they hear, they are on automatic.

You are also right about the possibility that any day may be the day someone decides your ‘confusion’ (or anger, or sadness, or exuberance, or complaints of abuse from others etc.) is a ‘sign’ that you are ‘crazy’. I think the odds of that occurring increase every year now, as more and more average human behaviour and experience gets sucked into the mental illness machine via that creative and lengthy Psy-Fi novel known as the DSM, which keeps giving psychiatry broader and broader powers for ‘intervention’ used without any necessity for evidence of any kind.

If we could all get off the idea that this is about diseases, and recognize that this has much more to do with political power and control, we just might awaken the sleep walkers in the general public who feel confident something like this could not happen to them because THEY aren’t ‘sick.’ That is what many believe. I sat beside a psychology student on the bus one day who made that very statement.

In cases like this I would point out this ‘symptom” of mental illness: ''Believing that you are not sick is one of the ‘signs’ that you ARE ‘sick.’ I said the same thing as that student. Most of us do. Yet when I say it, it is heard one way and when she says it, it is heard a different way. This manufactured ‘difference’ is the stuff the system of which the system is made. This should be ringing alarm bells for everyone, including those who are currently non-labelled, those who ‘think’ they aren’t sick. They are a couple of air quotes away from getting themselves ‘helped’ but they don’t understand that. They ‘think’ this is science, so most people don’t even notice the similarity.

I think the reason this doesn’t ring any alarm bells for them is because the majority still believe and still WANT to believe, there is a fundamental difference between ‘them’ and ‘us.’ Psychiatry has created an alternate language (what Robert Jay Lifton, M.D. calls ‘loaded language’ in his article which is available on this blog also titled, ''Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism'' which is used to support and reinforce that illusion.

You are also right that people’s feelings and beliefs etc. are ridiculed in every day life but, do you get told that no such ridicule has occurred? Do you get told you are only SAYING that happens because that is a sign of your brain disease and it means you are ‘seeking fame’? I have. So have many other of the psychiatrized. That is a standard part of the denial of the system. Do you get told you will not be ‘allowed’’ to talk about this publicly? I have been. If you refused to co-operate with that instruction, kept insisting that reality is, in fact, reality, and then got forced out of your job for it, would you feel angry?

If the response to any sign of anger about it was being told you would then be kept out of your job until you agreed to swallow powerful tranquilizers every day for the rest of your life, what would you do or say then? Would you feel less angry or angrier? Next, you anger will be defined as another symptom and not ‘real’ anger. What will you feel then? What will you do? Do you think that you night start to feel some very real fear then that these people have been handed this kind of power which almost no one questions?

Remember that while you are going through this, you haven’t actually done anything other than tell the truth about your own experience. Next, your fear will be seen as another ‘symptom.’ This is how it goes, and goes…and goes…and this is WHY people feel totally trapped and controlled and often give in or give up or begin acting it out. To psychiatry though, the only acceptable choice is the first one; to give in and become a convert to the Faith.

Brutal may be just about words and options in the context in which you used it in your questions above. Brutal to the psychiatrized is abut people taking over PHYSICAL and political control of every aspect of our lives, up to ands including; your perception of your own experience, what you will be ‘allowed’ to say, do, feel, know and think. If you think that’s the same as being insulted or ridiculed, arguing with people or putting up with the same kind of thing in ‘every day life’ then maybe you ARE crazy too.

I have heard that kind of assessment quite a bit from people who are seeing the psychiatrized as inherently defective; as though we are just ‘whining’ about the same sort of thing that happens to them and which they just ‘brush off.’ They like to wonder why we don’t do the same. It is because it is NOT the same thing but they don’t recognize that. It is like comparing being severely beaten with someone who bumped into you in a movie line. It is a degree of group abuse that is not recognized as reality. So there IS denial in this and plenty of it. It is just that it usually the lion’s share of it does not belong to the identified patient but rather to the group as a whole. So, I think that you are perhaps, minimizing the difference between being the labelled and the non labelled, largely, and ironically, BECAUSE you see the similarity of experience. That similarity throws a lot of people off.

So, I will try to present this in some other terms. The psychiatrist/psychiatrized relationship IS fundamentally different from that of relationships of a similar dynamic. It is more a matter of degree than content.

If your wife (let’s say) decides that your confusion or your thinking isn’t something he likes or agrees with, that does not give her the right to lock you up and drug you until, or unless, you change you mind. Once labelled though, the DOCTOR has that right and even assumes that right from the moment you walk in the door. Imagine the police coming to your home because your wife decides she doesn’t believe the people at work discounted your emotional reactions to something or ridiculed you at work all day. Or perhaps because added to that belief of hers, they called her covertly, and told her your emotional reactions to something seemed extreme to them and she believed them. She then keeps that discussion with them, to herself. This is how this labeling business often started you know. We don’t go from well one minute to ‘crazy’ the next. It is a process and it is a GROUP process at that. Frequently the starting point is that someone decides something is ‘crazy’ when in fact, it is just the truth someone else does not want to have to face, or perhaps deal with. It is often something that is very real and not all that significant to start with, which then snowballs when a growing group of people get involved bent on reducing the individual to a ‘disease process.’

Most of us can’t believe it is happening when it begins because it just ‘doesn’t make any sense.’ Guess how that statement is heard through the filter of psychiatry’s belief system?

The public in general is all too willing to accept the pronouncements of those who proclaim themselves to be highly trained experts. These beliefs have been integrated into the community at large and have been integrated without question. So, I believe we should ALL question the system. Usually though, the focus is on the identified patient who needs to do some questioning but NOT the psychiatrists, family members, or the public. That is quite an assumption, and it gives those who accept the status quo a false sense of security. They just “know” this can’t happen to them because THEY are not ‘crazy.”

So when you point out that many people in all the various groups tend to think they don’t need to question anything in this, I agree. That being the case, how did SOME of those people come to be seen as so fundamentally ‘different’ from those ‘others’ who are so obviously similar? Is it medical or is it political?

I am not saying there is not anything, or anyone, that doesn’t need questioning. My objection is that it is assumed by the system that SOME people really need to do that (the ‘crazies’) and that ‘others’ do not. (the presumably ‘sane’ ones)

I think that most of the psychiatrized, especially the ones who did not land in the system by being triggered into psychosis though addictions, tend to be more introspective and do MORE questioning about human values and are less likely, generally, to be thought of as ‘extroverts.’ Frequently in society, I think we see the type of thinking and behaviour defined as ‘extroverted,’ assessed as of a higher ‘social’ value. I think that can sometimes be a defense mechanism in itself. Extroverts may tend to externalize their own problems more readily, in my experience, rather than less. Introverts in general, tend to question ideas and situations as a normal way of looking at things.

I believe that in many, many cases, the one who is doing the questioning is threatening to someone whose motives, thinking and behaviours are coming from a hidden agenda. That agenda is not so ‘hidden’ to some of us, especially if it is a repeat experience. The one questioning threatens the other simply by being aware of, what is to him or her, an obvious reality or truth.
If you place someone who questions like this inside a dysfunctional group of people who DON’T questions much, and who, as a group, have a primary objective of maintaining the status quo, what do you think happens?
If you state something which is obvious to you, which no one else sees or hears, largely because the group does not WANT to see it or hear it, how welcome, in that group, do you think the one who sees and hears it accurately is going to be?

Many of us who get labeled do not originally (or sometimes ever) understand the reaction we get to something so obvious. It puzzles and confuses us. So, frequently, since we see or understand something they don’t, a conclusion is drawn which appears to be based mainly on numbers. If there are six people in a group, one perceives the reality of the situation one way, and the other five see it as the opposite, then an unspoken ‘vote’ has taken place on the nature of ‘reality.’ Based on that, the group, often at the suggestion of one member, begins to suggest that the one in isolation is ‘crazy.’ When the group accepts that, the members all start to treat the individual ‘as if’ that were true, having already bought into society’s preconceived notions of what ‘crazy’ means. They then start to look for signs and symbols everywhere and in looking for them begin to find them.

As the target of such an ‘intervention’ everything I do and say becomes ‘suspect’, or ‘different’ somehow than if the same things were done or said by people presumed to be ‘normal.’ For example, I say I am mocked and ridiculed by people I don’t even know and who don’t know me. Psychiatrists and others act like they just KNOW that can’t be true, since that would not make any senses. I concur. It does not make any sense. Notice how at this point we are both making the same judgment but it is from opposite viewpoints. Still we are using the same WORDS. We both say, “it makes no sense.” The outcome from this point on depends solely on this:

If they believe that what I say happened, did, in fact, happen, then they will conclude that the group behaviour is not making any sense.

If they don’t believe that what I say happened, really happened, then they will conclude that what I ‘claim’ happened, makes no sense and I as the individual will be judged to be the one who is ‘having trouble making sense of ‘things.’

Presto-Chango! Reality has been redefined as my symptoms and the group is off the hook for its thinking and behaviour. See how simple and quick that can be?

Psychiatrists tend, like most people, to believe that reality is defined by group consensus. This how a whole lot to do with HOW individuals originally get trapped in the mental illness system. Then once labeled, that becomes you identity whether what you said happened to you was true or not, because after that, it is rare indeed that any psychiatrist will look beyond the label and see a person sitting there before him, let alone a person in distress BECAUSE psychiatry has defined him or her in the way that it has done. There is no greater feeling of isolation or being ‘invisible’ as a human being than that felt when being sucked into a system that cannot see or hear any better than any other dysfunctional group in the greater society. As Szasz has stated regarding the idea of ‘schizophrenia’: It is a self fulfilling prophecy.’ And it IS.

“Crazy’ is an effect of this, not a cause in itself. Psychiatry’s current involving of the public and teaching others, including family physicians to look for ‘signs’ has only made this group phenomenon much worse than it was before. They have now formalized a form of group hysteria and given it a pseudo scientific validity.

The difference is that those who are ‘suspicious’ that someone may be ‘mad’ do not get labeled paranoids. Those who complain that they are being watched, followed, and treated strangely in ways that do not make any sense, BY those who are suspicious and looking for ‘signs,’ DO get labeled mad . More often than not I think, it is the exact opposite of the way the situation is perceived by the experts.

Nurses and other staffers in psychiatric hospitals often treat the person assigned the role of ‘patient’ like he or she is not really there, or like an inanimate object, even when he or she may be only a few feet away. When Margot Kidder said, “You are totally invalidated as a human being,” she means exactly what she says and that is not HER perception problem. The failure to accept that statement at face value is the perception problem of those who have not had the experience themselves; at least not yet. I had said of me, by others, that it was OK for them to do that as “she won’t have any idea what we are talking about anyway.” That was while they stood there in their customary observation pose; arms folded, one foot slightly forward, heads tilted together. As the patient observing this, we tend to think they are ‘joking’ or sometimes that they are deliberately TRYING to drive us insane by bombarding us with their non stop duplicity.

I want to say also that no one ‘wants to drive themselves towards psychiatrist.’ I sort of bristle now at the way that is expressed, though I do know what you mean I think. Some people are less adept at handling the whole situation than are others. Still, the onus seems to be consistently placed on the psychiatrized (or the one who is about to BE psychiatrized) while the other participants rarely, if ever, ask themselves if they are a part of the identified patient’s problem. With the idea of ‘disease’ process making it’s entry as the probable ‘cause’ of my ‘thinking’ I am being mocked and ridiculed by people I don’t even know, and having that offered to others as an ‘explanation.' That done, my perception of my own reality which is accurate, makes a simultaneous exit along with my personhood. For at that point, I am no longer a person; I am a disease process, in need of the control of others. So, I am trapped and I know it. I KNOW it. The instant that occurs, we are alone with our truth.
Often, that is when full breakdown finally occurs. We then know the true horror of the whole group dynamic and we also know that no one around us can even SEE it, let alone deal with the reality of it.

I think the main feelings involved are caused by the isolation, non stop invalidation and the group pressure applied to make us ‘accept’ ourselves as inherently ‘defective.’ I actually told people this as I was breaking down myself but it was not accepted as reality. It is one of the most traumatic experiences you can imagine and it is constantly minimized by those who observe us from ‘outside’ the experience, all certain that they understand it better than we do. I felt pressured, non stop, by external circumstances as well as pressured from within to find a solution that would make sense of it and make it stop before I broke down.

I could feel myself disconnecting from concrete reality because I couldn’t nail it down under the bombardment of disinformation and non stop contradiction. I even told people this and they often smiled and looked very amused as I did. The amusement of those others who believe they understand the experience better than the one having it is a constant feature in this. That is reality too and not a ‘symptom.’ It is also true that many of us last a very long time before we finally break.
Your line of questioning is, “Can we prevent people who know better from ending up psychiatrized”?

If you mean, ‘Can the individual under pressure prevent it’? Sometimes, but not always. I think the chances of that are increased if he or she has some real emotional support but very often that is not the case at all. Often the people around the individual are supporting the idea of disease process and intervention which can add to the sense of isolation and desolation in a big way. Now if you mean, ‘Can the psychiatrized one, the psychiatrists, family, friends, ACTors and the public prevent it’?’ then yes, I think that’s possible. To do that though, there is going to have o be massive changes made in the group mind, because it is the whole group which really suffers from a perception/reaction problem, not the solitary identified patient elected to be ‘the sick one.’

There is a well known concept in the mental illness business which gets repeated over and over again to the psychiatrized and to everyone else. It is;
We cannot change others. We can only change ourselves.”
That’s true. I am suggesting that those who preach that to me, model it for me rather than dictating it to me.
The system is set up to control and prevent escape from the system and that is just what is wrong with it. We need to hope and pray we can escape. It needs to change its whole outlook and become what it originally hoped it might be but is not; a mental HEALTH system, not the mental ILLNESS system that it is now.

A mental health system would accept, listen, and validate or invalidate on the level of concepts ONLY; not invalidate people, and it would work to empower individuals to Self control and Self define, while respecting the right of others to do the same. In other words it would be to live and let live in mutual respect. It would not make sweeping judgements, without evidence, based upon what it wishes to be true, or assumes to be true. That is just idiotic yet it is done all the time and accepted as legitimate.

I am told by some, though only from a few feet away of course, that I am ‘simplistic.’ I disagree. What I am in my own opinion, is a person who is promoting a simple premise of reasoning that will work, but ‘simple’ should not be heard as a synonym for ‘easy.’ We all have a lot of error to undo.

You’re right too, people don’t go ‘crazy’ overnight, it is a process that builds up over time which I believe psychiatry and others could help defuse if they would just face and accept the reality of the identified patient’s life instead of trying to ‘interpret’ it, or just outright denying it, to make it fit into their preconceived notions.
If we do as you say, 'in the ordinary daily world', we just may be able to defuse the whole thing and stop it.
A lot of the GROUP cause of this has already been written you know; not just by me but by many others over the course of history. Many psychiatrists have also said it, or at least, parts of it. Szasz has said it, Breggin, Laing, John Weir Perry, and many, many psychiatric survivours too numerous to mention. Yet here we all sit, centuries later, looking together for the ‘hidden’ meaning behind the truth many people don’t like. That is of course, another ‘sign’: 'resistance'. What is so absurd about it all is the fact that the words used to describe it, more often than not, are ACCURATE except that they are used to describe the wrong people!

It is not that the information’s not there; it is that it gets ‘interpreted’ or invalidated in order to preserve the system AS IS.

In my own case, I told the psychiatrists LONG before I broke down, exactly what my problem was, who was causing it, and even HOW he was doing it. They decided they would not believe me. Once that has been decided, and it is often decided within ten minutes or so now, I have only two basic choices after that.

I can accept the psychiatrists’ ‘interpretation’ of my event, relationships, feelings and perceptions.
I can keep on insisting that I do NOT have a perception problem and that I am telling the truth.

If you think about that, either way, unless the psychiatrist is going to admit he or she is wrong, I get to be ‘crazy.’ As long as my truth is not accepted, I can either be ‘crazy’ now (for continuing to insist I am not crazy) or I can be crazy before, (for now ‘admitting’ that I WAS crazy then so that I can get out of the system’s trap now.) That is some choice isn’t it? This will continue for as long as my truth is not accepted and for as long as I do either of the above.

In such a system, the psychiatrist gets to be right all the time, no matter what evidence there is to the contrary. In fact, ‘evidence’ I would suspect, is rarely looked at. That would be too time consuming for those who are already sure they pretty much know everything. I had and still have evidence in my own case and it has been deliberately suppressed by some and just ignored by others.

There is only one way that I can see to change this: Tell all of the ‘secrets’ being kept that we are told we are not to reveal. It is this ‘secrecy’ and intimidation tactics which enable ALL abusers, of all kinds, to continue to do what they do, no matter who, or what, they are. It is ironic to me that a system which sometimes teaches that, also fails to see it in its own behaviour and thinking. We need to get the focus OFF of the identified patient being pressured constantly and instead, look very, very closely at the psychiatrists thinking and behaviour, as well as that of everyone else involved. If we do, I think many people will be shocked by what they see there.

I have a suggestion too and it’s one that I have made before to some psychology students.
If the mental health profession REALLY wants to understand how it feels to be trapped in the chicken/egg paradox of the labeling system, I suggest they try experiencing it for themselves. They could model their experiment (on themselves for a change, instead of patients or staff) using a model ike the book “Black Like Me” By John Howard Griffin. The book, for those who don't know it, has this premise: ''the true account of John Griffin's experiences when he passed as a black man. John Horton takes treatments to darken his skin and leaves his home in Texas to travel throughout the South.''

Only THIS time they can write their paper titled ‘Schizophrenic Like Me’ (or ‘Delusional Disorder’ or Borderline Personality Disorder) All they have to do is pick a psychiatric label for themselves, tell a half dozen people that is their diagnosis, then just continue to be their usual ‘sane’ selves while observing the drastic change that takes place in their lives as a result of other people’s new perception of them. Some of them could take it further by adding the simple statement, “I don’t accept my diagnosis because I am not ‘sick.’

Unlike the psychology students who have tried something similar but then were rescued from the psychiatric hospitals determined to ‘save’ them, there should be no rescuer in this in order for the experimenter to feel and experience the full effect. He or she should be forced to try to talk his or her own way out of the system. Take notes as you go and if the drugging or E.C.T gets to be too much for you, contact me and I will commiserate with you about it. Remember though; don’t tell anyone else about it as an intervention may well be the result. Also, if any of these experimenters feel themselves breaking down under the non stop invalidation and pressure, or if they get too confused by the multiple meanings given to everything, and the non stop bombardment of duplicity form the sane ‘others’, they can e-mail me and I will explain it to them before psychosis is the result.

Am I being sarcastic here? Yes, you bet. Anger which is not acknowledged as valid has to be expressed somehow. This is how I choose to do it. I think it is better than acting out in violence. Nevertheless, the idea I am suggesting about those who really want to understand trying it from the other point of view is seriously suggested.

This is an ongoing Dialogue on current mental health treatments, labeled people, and different points of view between Rob Wipond and I. We will add to it as both of us have the time to do so.

To bring up ALL sections of The Dialogue together, click on the label at the bottom of any of the sections. This will work unless part of it it is being read by someone else.

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