Saturday, May 05, 2012

What is Mental Illness?

Some folks I know in California sent me this site to look at. 

One of the first things that always strikes me is the starting point. The starting point of the problem is ALWAYS seen as within the identified patient without relationship to personal circumstances, other people situations or events.  The identified patient is routinely seen as a self contained defective human being or rather sub human, in need of fixing by those who know more about him or her then s/he could possibly understand. In this way, the I.P is immediately invalidated and seen as object of observation rather that a participant in his or her own life experience. My own labelling took 11 cost effective minutes from the time I said “how do you do.” Those who have not had this experience do not understand that one’s whole life and the relationship to everyone in it can be completely changed in that amount of time and once labelled, virtually EVERYONE in your life treats you “as if” that is who, or perhaps more accurately, WHAT you are, and nothing you say or do changes that. In fact, trying to get out of the position into which you have usually been FORCED is close to impossible because other psychiatrists tend to accept the diagnosis of whomever you happened to get in the crap shoot of the hour, although some will change it to some other containment label.  It reminds me of this one from Joseph Campbell on attitudes when talking about the Power of Myth...

Your psychology changes when you understand that the ego which sees a “thou” is not the same as the ego that sees an “it.”
Joseph Campbell, in conversation on
The Power of Myth

Under Success Stories on the website
P.N. Is talked about in the third person as an object of assessment. This is an interpretation by third parties and NOT his view of himself and his own experience. Does P.N. Consider himself to be a “success story” or is this an ongoing assessment by those who decide that FOR him?
Why is the story not in the first person?
How did P.N. the poverty stricken Vietnamese immigrant GET that “schizophrenia” label in the first place?
Why do they like to refer to “us” as numbers? 
Would those doing the evaluating like to be talked about in the same way as this “success story” or would they find it less than respectful?
Did P.N. break down under enough ongoing stress to break 20 people, while the very real stressors were denied to exist as an external environment withwhich P.N. had to interact from his position of powerlessness?
Are the expectations of him under such conditions representational of a double standard?
When he had a job, how did he get treated there? Did some people call him “gook”?
If I spent YEARS living in a car with no income at all, not even social assistance, I bet you I would display an “irritable mood” and “concentration problems” likely in part from piss poor diet... and “social skills”?
Did he not manage to get out of the car to attend the social functions in the nearby alley?
When he was “resisting being taken out of his car were there cops with tasers “helping” him out?
Were the threats of incarceration used?
What did he go through in Viet Nam? Did anyone ask? Did anyone care?
The world at large needs to hear DIRECTLY from the identified patient without the threats of more 'treatment” always used to intimidate, invalidate and control those who resist seeing themselves as inherently defective. Threats coercion, often financial pressure as well, “works” in a way, but they do not really solve problems. What they do best is silence those who complain that they HAVE problems they see no way out of and which often cannot be solved because those “authorities” with whom they discuss their problems, decide FOR them, their problems are not real, and invalidate the individual with a nice containment label for talking about it.
Many people “withdraw” from society because the society they are “withdrawing” from has made their very REAL problems as a member within it WORSE instead of better, so making themselves a smaller target is easier than trying to keep saying, what those in control of them are not interested in HEARING, or in taking seriously anyway.
Explain that the reason we say “nothing about us without us” is because it is most often everything about us without us, and we routinely get talked about or AT and not to or WITH.

I believe that those of us who have shared this kind of experience need to SAY all of this publicly, on this level. We have to stop ASKING a system that does not want to change to “please listen to us” and TELL them that we do not want their brand of “help”, which does not mean we have no problems, but that the kind of “help” we get often becomes something much worse than the problem we had in the first place. We must tell them, and tell them in large numbers, that we do not want to listen to THEM, defining us, like we have no awareness of our own being and no right to feel the way we do about being treated like OBJECTS of observation and assessment. Then we need to say things like, “of course I know even this statement will be invalidated and defined as one of the “symptoms” from which I suffer, which justifies the diagnostics. I know this because I have had the experience with a system that validates itself BY turning my objections to it into more symptoms within me which justifies the existence of the system and its platform of reductionism.
This is WHY we feel like we are just going around in circles.

Best of luck to all and hope you make a real impact today, May 5th 2012.
Feel free to use this if you like. I am with you in spirit.

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