Friday, September 21, 2007

Psychiatric Fiction, The Normal People:

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

Fictional Scene 1:
A woman from a public housing unit gets on a bus at the corner of a street on which there is a hospital and a public housing Unit. She has a new rumour or two to pass along which she got from the ACTors, Psychiatric hospital Volunteers, and other housing residents who are spreading more gossip and fabricating like mad all over the community.

The bus driver, who has been ‘assessing’ the situation for many years, about a passenger currently sitting on his bus, is very eager to hear the latest. He is one of the drivers keeping all the other bus drivers (and passengers) informed and up to date. He likes to express his disdain for the passenger who is the subject of all the gossip, and has done so often, but of course, he does this ‘in secret.’ (Even when he is hollering the latest rumour including her full name, out of his bus window to people on the street who are hollering back)

Back to today’s scene:
He suggests to the gossiping woman that as the ‘subject’ is on the bus at that very moment (he’s is being extra cautious today) they should pretend they are talking abut bus route information. She agrees. So he gets out a pamphlet for a few minutes and waves it around a bit trying to make it look legitimate.
She then performs a little skit for three or four minutes in which she and he are clearly gossiping back and forth, including little outburst of laughter, eye rolling and face making, and three or four acts of leaning in closely to whisper right in his ear. Finally, she then straightens up out of that pose, turns around to face the passengers, and keeping her face composed as a normal mask looks directly into my eyes before she sits down. As she does this, the bus driver looks at me too in the mirror as I look back at him, though I am sure he does not really see me doing that.

I, of course, am considered to be so ‘stupid/crazy’ that I will accept the pantomime at the start of their conversation as indicating they are really just talking abut bus schedules.
See how easy it is to ‘fool’ us nuts? Or is it really us ‘nuts’ who are being fooled?
How many people do you know who have to spend three or four minutes whispering into a bus driver’s ear about bus routes? Do you think the cover story and the body language match or do you think they actually draw attention to themselves because they really don’t match at all, which indicates the conversation is about something else altogether? Do we really need to explain this much to adult human beings? If so, why is that? Do you think it may be about THEIR idea of who the person they are gossiping about REALLY is that is causing the ‘perception’ problem? Do you suppose the perception problem might belong to the people dong the gossiping rather than the one being gossiped about? Would it surprise you of when asked about this directly, that these gossips DENIED doing what they do?

You don’t suppose that when I ‘claim’ bus drivers and a lot of other people I don’t even know are talking abut me that I could be talking about scenes just like this one do you?
Now take this little scene as presented here, and multiply it by say, (t o be conservative) about thirty similar performances a day.

What effect do you think that might have on the individual being talked about and ‘interpreted’ constantly as if he or she were an unconscious object instead of a person?

Now imagine it going on and on like that for months or years or decades.
If you were the individual in this scene, how do you think you would feel, and what would happen to your life and well being? What do you think it would be like to be forced to live like that indefinitely, the whole event denied, and then reframed as your ‘ incurable mental illness, ’ even while it just went on and on without end.

If you have a whole lot of trouble imagining what that would be like, ask a psychiatrized person but, don’t be surprised if you have trouble finding one who will answer you honestly since after we have been invalidated often enough, and long enough, for trying to tell others what they really don’t want to know anyway, we often have given up all effort to do so. It is just too exhausting.

Tell you what though; if you really can’t find anyone psychiatrized to explain it to you to your satisfaction, the next time you are on a bus and a whole group of people turn around to stare at someone they think is crazy or to openly mock and ridicule him or her, say to yourself, THIS is what the psychiatrized people say happens to them which the psychiatric system can only hear as the delusions of the one experiencing it. When you become aware enough to become truly horrified at this psychological paradoxical trap that humanity has created to explain away the societal abuses the majority don’t want to acknowledge let alone deal with, you are on the verge of understanding it.

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