By Sarah Robertson, Psychiatric Support Worker
I was sitting in the hospital dining room feeding a patient who was suffering from dementia and could no longer do it herself, when I overheard a conversation between a student and a staff member who were sitting close by.
The student was describing a patient I knew from the community who was going through another round of ‘help’ in the critical care unit. This ‘chronic’ patient, who looks a bit odd in her mismatched second hand clothes and with a lack of teeth, had tried to stay away from the ‘help’ as much as she could. Now, she was back in complaining about being harassed by her neighbours who lived in the same cheap places in which she herself was forced to live. (Such places also tend to house the old and poor, the university students, the working poor and all the town’s addicts.)
As you know, one of the ‘claims’ of the psychiatrized is that we get harassed a lot by other people. (You know how we all like to blame those blameless others. )
The student in the dining room was explaining something she had done. Her concern was clearly for herself. She was telling the staff member that ‘when she had found the opportunity’ she had gone up to this psychiatrized woman and told her straight out, “you are going to go to hell!”
Well now though, as she was explaining it, it seems the student’s target for verbal abuse was ‘not as far gone as I had thought she was.” The woman was apparently talking normally now and carrying on conversations with others. So this student was ‘a little bit worried’ that the woman may tell someone what she had done. Apparently in this 'normal' girl's mind, telling people who are 'too far gone' to recognize you that they are going to hell is all right. Her only concern in this case was of her misjudgement of the level of awareness of the patient. The student wondered if it might be going to affect her training there at all. She then expressed her hopes that it wouldn’t saying, Maybe she won’t remember what I said…or maybe she won’t recognize me.’
I sat watching and listening to this conversation, observing it on several levels at once.
I was remembering being the patient the year before (yes, I did go back in there to work for several reasons) and having to endure two a**holes of my own, sitting three feet away, in the “intensive care” unit, talking about me in the third person like I was not really there and discussing with each other the possibility of stealing my bank card and draining me dry. They figured I was too 'effed in the head' to know what was going on anyway and as with a**holes, all they need to justify their own behaviour is the opportunity to act it out.
In the dining room this time, I was also watching the flat affect on the staff member’s face as this vicious little ‘normal’ student casually told her story of added abuse done to someone who was already breaking under the load. The abused patient was one of the people it was frequently commented on as always “whining” about this kind of abuse she was “supposedly’’ suffering at the hands of others. This was part of those “paranoid delusions” of hers, much like my own, that kept sending her back to the psycho unit for more treatment.
The staff member this time was doing the usual routine while listening with a half interest to this horror story, …”Yeah…Hmmmm…maybe…hope so…”, all delivered with as much interest or engagement as one would have if forced to listen to someone reading a phone book out loud.
The professionals never seem to see any connection between the complaints of the patient and the reality of the situation and THAT is where the ‘split’ really starts; in reality itself. Even when this student was CONFESSING to the reality of the covertly delivered abuse and aggression, there was no emotional, or even intellectual, reaction to that from the staff member. She was just too well trained to disconnect from her own understanding of the alternate reality which her own training had created for her. This alternate was the reality in which she lived and the filter through which she perceived all the events being discussed.
This is the surreal atmosphere being created by psychiatry. It is only that a lot of the psychiatrized believe the professionals are ‘pretending’ to be stupid but that’s not it. It’s that they are THEMSELVES psychologically deaf to reality and emotionally blunted.
WHY was the student not told by the staff member that she was undeniably wrong to do what she did? Why was the patient’s experience of that not validated?
Tell you what: I’ll answer that student right here.
The woman you ‘assessed’ and condemned as ‘going to hell’ HEARD you loud and clear. She hears everyone who does that to her, everywhere she goes, the stress of it, as an ongoing part of her endless unrecognized misery in life is what often breaks her down to the point where she can no longer even speak. It is like being driven into psychic shock, over and over again.
She remembers you and has not ‘forgotten’ what you did, nor does she ‘forget what others just like you to did to her, and continue do to her, because they are given a psychiatric carte blanche to do so. That is what she often ‘whines’ about to the psychiatrists. She knows that ‘when you got the opportunity’ means you did it when you were sure no one was looking, or when no one could hear you doing it. She KNOWS. Smiling at her afterwards like you have done nothing isn’t fooling her. You may be fooling others, and you sure are fooling yourself but you are not fooling her. She sees your duplicity. You are not ‘hidden.’
The duplicity of supposedly sane people is a constant feature of her psychiatrized life. She knows you (any many others) will cover up your abuse of her. She knows that staff will cover up for you and sometimes for some of their own as well for the sake of appearances, which usually takes precedence over the protection of the victims of this, hard to prove, style of abuse. She knows that you will not be called to account for your actions and she also knows that if she complains about you, it will only mean more ‘treatment’ for her, so she pretends it’s OK, or that she doesn’t notice it, to save herself from suffering something even worse for ‘whining’ about you.
She is ‘the freak’ the “whack job” the “‘nut”, just like I am, and like me she probably gets to hear that in the community every day, and has it shouted at her out of car windows as well. She is one of the lunatics like me, who routinely gets backed into a psychological corner by society‘s denial of the reality of her experience and she is one of the people who knows that she cannot react emotionally, as any normal human being would, in such a situation, because her emotions will be considered to be ‘inappropriate’, since they are seen as connected to nothing at all. She is forced to live in this alternate reality, just like Alice in Wonderland, so that supposedly sane people, like you dearie, don’t have to face the reality of yourselves, and don’t have to know the truth about the state she is in, or what really causes it.
You don’t have to TELL her she is going to hell, you sanctimonious, over bearing little female dog with the grandiose delusions. She’s already IN hell and you are one of it’s prized citizens who are making sure she stays trapped there WITH you and with everyone like you.
So, if you really want to ‘help’ others, help YOURSELF first. If you can manage to finally figure out what is wrong with YOU, and with those LIKE you, there will be a whole lot fewer psychiatrized people in need of any kind of help at all.