Monday, May 10, 2010

Changing the Mental Illness System's Harping Parameters

By Patricia Lefave, Monophrenic

As anyone who has been in the mental illness system (and it is an 'illness' system) for longer than 9 minutes knows, the system has its favourite topics to harp on and many a harpy to deliver them. I would like to suggest to some of those professionals that they harp on some new attitudes to replace the old, tired jargon.
Instead of repeating over and over again, “We can't blame others...You must forgive them, for your OWN sake...and, we come to accept that other people aren't perfect.”...I would like to suggest we focus on some equality producing concepts to replace the 'them and us' concepts so popular today. Think of this change as going from a mental illness system to a real mental health system.
In this new style of system the 'one size fits all' concept could actually work since we get away from the powerful/powerless, them or us, relationship and into the egalitarian one. I call it the Goldilocks concept; not too powerful, not too powerless but Juuuuussssst right. That is about personal power and control over the self; not 'others'.
Instead of an inferior/superior split or 'choice', we focus on Self definition, Self direction, Self containment and Self restraint. By “we” I mean everyone, psychiatrists included, without regard for status as a consideration, or 'difference.' I cannot respect a psychiatric MORE than I respect myself, nor should I be expected to do so, or to pretend to do so.
In this case there is no polarized bouncing around in an attempt to FEEL better about being either 'superior or inferior' (both of which are delusional ideas) but rather a focus on getting OUT of that nonsense thinking and into a personally centred, stable and peaceful space of our own. Space for the 'patient' as well as 'space' for the psychiatrist.
That eliminates the identifying with either, aggressors or victims, and moves us all towards Self actualization (the real kind) with good boundaries intact.
The boundaries could be stated to exist as this:
Living as individuals in the 'space' between Self direction and Self restraint; between Self respect AND (not OR) respect for others.
Both sides of this paradigm must be present at the same time and not an 'either /or' choice.
So what will the mental 'health' system harp on now?

How about:
We (the all inclusive 'we' which eliminates the 'them') must develop genuine empathy for all other humans regardless of their status, details of concrete existence or identity.
We must understand though where “I” end and the other “I” begins. It is not a choice of being the same OR different but rather of understanding that we must be BOTH at the same time.
We must know that we CAN 'blame others' and we can also blame ourselves though we cannot take vengeance on anyone.
Concrete example: If you punch me in the face, I blame YOU for that action.
BUT I cannot take vengeance by punching you in the face too as the means of restoring equality. Instead the system will harp at you: You must show contrition; you must develop empathy. You must learn and practise personal boundaries.
It is not 'no one can be blamed' but rather we are ALL to blame, to one degree or another, so each of us concerns our self with what we are doing that is a problem for both our self and others (not or) and which needs to be changed. We must not be altruistic caring only about others (a crock of excrement) OR concerned ONLY for our self, but must strive to do, and be, BOTH at the same time.
We must understand personal boundaries to know WHY we are blaming, who we are blaming and when it is appropriate to hold others accountable, as well as when it is appropriate to hold ourselves accountable.
How about adding: “We must show contrition for what we do that is boundary violating to others and also show a willingness to change our ways.”
Perhaps psychiatrists can get us all started on that one by offering themselves as our example. They are, after all, the most highly integrated personalities on the planet are they not? They MUST be since they are writing the book on human thinking and behaviour that is to be set as the standard of sanity for the whole world. If they are not representing the standard for the world on the road to the future, who is? Let them demonstrate then the meaning of accountability for the rest of us mere mortals.
Accountability can be nothing more than saying those words; “I was wrong, I m sorry, I will change this.”

It does not even have to be physical punishments. But we must learn to say the words and feel empathy. “Normal' human beings will stop being 'entertained' by the victimization of 'others' when they see no difference between those to whom it is being done, and to having it done to them.
(If you do not want to be talked about in a derogatory manner, behind your back; STOP talking.)
There IS no difference except in the currently delusional beliefs of the 'normal' playing the 'them and us game.'

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