As I write this, it’s a quiet, cool-enough Saturday morning in Boulder, Colorado, one day after the solstice and with a diffuse brown haze fuzzing the high peaks to the west. Colorado, as much of the American Southwest, is dotted with wildfires, some small, some massive, and the air has been smoky. Our forests are sere with drought, grey with massive swaths of beetle-killed ponderosa, and choked with deadfall. All it takes is one lightning strike or one poorly extinguished campfire or one tossed cigarette and a strong wind, and Poof, the next fire ignites.
And rages across the hills.
It’s hard to qualify wildfires. They have always happened and always will, and certainly when you’re in the path of one, they can feel “evil,” like conscious beings with a will of their own, rampaging Lovecraftian behemoths hell-bent on destruction. With all the newer homes and so many Colorado towns in the wildland-urban interface, the toll these fires take on humans, from the destruction of property to the loss of life, is tragic. But is a fire burning by itself up in the mountains with no one around similarly “tragic”? It’s long been known that fires are natural occurrences that also restore forests, by thinning the canopy, and clearing old trees/deadfall and making room for new growth. So perhaps in the end it’s difficult to put a value judgment on a wildfire. It’s simply there; it simply is. We fight the fires that threaten us because that is mankind’s way: to protect what is ours and to survive.
I have similar sentiments about the whole psych-med withdrawal/recovery conundrum: it’s simply there; it simply is. We fight our way through it because it is our will to survive, but it’s difficult to put a value judgment—a qualitative assessment—on such an internal and subjective experience, as hellish as it is, as unfair of a sandbag as it can be. I realize I can take such a view only because I’m lucky enough to have the horror mostly behind me, and can thus afford to be more detached. But it wasn’t always this way: at first, when I was sickest, I was mad as hell. However, having gotten better and now with seven years since that last psych drug, I’ve realized that putting a value judgment on my experience got in the way of healing, in particular wasting my energy looking for somewhere to lay the blame, even on myself, for the ruination that had become my life. Or worse yet, having my energy drained by others looking to blame me for what I was going through and how my struggle had impacted their lives.
No matter how I came at it, the blame game was pointless and counterproductive, an exercise in futility, turning a smoldering campfire of anger into a roiling conflagration of rage that served only to perpetuate negative emotions and to get an already-jacked-up nervous system firing into hyperdrive.
I was better off focusing on stillness, calmness, patience, and the gains I was making each day, and to hell with what anyone else thought. If they didn’t have anything positive to add, well then, screw them.
But here’s the thing: It’s hard not to be enraged when your life is in shambles, you want nothing more than to get it back (and it’s happening barely, slowly, if at all), and you feel betrayed by the very people who you thought, at least at one point, meant to help you. I understand why we get angry, and why we are in our rights to do so. It’s harder yet to control others’ reactions to our experiences because, for most people and especially for those true believers who work in or subscribe unquestioningly to the psychiatric system, your experience lies so far beyond their parameters that they are simply unable to entertain it, also because to do so might dissolve the tissue-paper walls with which their fortress has been so shabbily constructed.
Yes, very frustrating! Still, I hold that wasting energy—any energy—on this crap gets in the way of the primary goal of healing. Think about it: when a wildfire starts and is bearing down on homes, the first thing we do is try to extinguish or contain it. It doesn’t matter how the fire started or who or what is at fault; what matters most is taking action and averting tragedy. The search for a cause, for something to blame, comes later, in its due time, so that we might learn from it.
Here are the two Blame Game responses I’ve most often seen or experienced, and the reasons I consider both to be equally fruitless. 1) “My idiot psychiatrist never told me how dangerous these drugs were, and when I went to get off of them he didn’t give me any help and just wanted to put me on more drugs.” And, from “well-meaning” friends, family members, or if you’re unlucky enough to be trapped in the system, people in the mental-health or recovery industries (or who subscribe to that paradigm), 2) “You were the one who put chemicals in your body; how could you not know they were dangerous? You need to take responsibility for what happened.”
I’m guessing that if you’ve read this far, this all sounds familiar.
To the first response, chances are that if you’ve decided to come off psych meds, you have already had your awakening—have hit the wall and done your research, and clued into the fact that mainstream psychiatry is a broken business indeed, focused on labeling, controlling, and drugging, such that anyone who steps through a psychiatrist’s door will in all probability be kept on the hook for life. Told fallaciously that he or she has some mystical underlying biological disorder that must always be “corrected chemically” with psychotropic agents or things will get even worse, so that the person remains a patient in perpetuity, in thrall both emotionally and financially to their all-knowing demigod of a doctor.
Yet now you’ve woken up and seen that your doctor is trading in murky, unprovable half-truths, and that what he’s selling is little more than snake oil. So really, is it so surprising that this person, operating within his or her hermetic reality, is going to be less than supportive in your quest to break free from his “care”? Is going to deny any culpability in putting you in this jam in the first place? And probably has not studied or considered the most humane ways to help patients off drugs? Even if your doctor was a well-intentioned general practitioner, he or she was still hawking nostrums off the same Big Pharma cart, still assured in the knowledge that the “drugs must work” or otherwise they wouldn’t be on the market.
Blaming someone for his essential and probably unchangeable nature gets you nowhere— only angrier. I know; we all do it. As an analogy, I tend to launch into F-bomb-laden tirades when I’m stuck behind some pokey driver on the two-lane roads near my house. I know I shouldn’t and I know it’s pointless, but I do it anyway. But really the simplest solution is either to distract myself, and think about something else, or to bide my time and then pass the other car without investing any emotional energy into the scenario. Along the same lines, railing on your psychiatrist for doing what most psychiatrists do simply wastes your energy, energy that would be better spent tending to yourself.
Now to the second response: For whatever reason, the whole “addict makes good” model seems to be primary way in which people conceptualize stories of chemical damage to the body and the brain. As in, you need to “work the steps” and “atone for the damage” and “get right with yourself” or whatever, or it’s all going to happen again because of your “broken thinking.” What a bunch of rot. If you really want to change your life, and not lean on pills or substances of any type, you can and will—it takes determination, insight, and willpower, but we all have these attributes inside us. A few criticisms I’ve received from family, friends, and also in response to sharing my story in a book were that I wasn’t taking full responsibility for what happened, as if only in doing so could I “truly heal” or somehow, by accepting “full blame” for my drugged-up past (I was both on prescribed psych meds and also had substance-abuse issues), prove myself worthy of rejoining the human race.
We love to look down on our junkies, and in my case I was addicted to/dependent on/strung out on benzodiazepines, which in addition to being particularly addictive are also quite difficult to withdraw from, and can also foster recreational abuse. But again, whatever: your brain and compromised neurons care little on a social or psychological level how they came to be damaged or how you’re going about ingesting the chemicals. They desire only to find their way back to equilibrium, and negative messages hurled your way from people who take an absolutist stance on chemical dependency serve only to obstruct healing.
I need think only of the substance-abuse group I attended for a time in western Colorado. On most days, our facilitator was a kind, even-tempered, open-minded woman, and the group discussions went well and had honesty and emotional resonance to them. But one day when she couldn’t make it, we had a substitute, your archetypal unkempt “recovery professional” replete with a silly little ponytail, neon-green fleece jacket, and the sense of humor of a cinder-block wall. For a good hour and change he hurled abuse at us, telling us we needed to “man up” and “accept responsibility” for what had happened, etc., etc.—basically, he treated us like subhumans. Now consider this: when you break your leg and go to your doctor seeking help, he doesn’t berate you for whatever caused the break, be it a fall off a ladder, skiing, or a slip on an icy sidewalk. So why should it be any different with addiction/withdrawal? Clearly an error was made, in judgment, in thinking, in how you dealt with your problems, because your first instinct was to reach outside yourself for a destructive fix. But now here you are seeking help, only to be belittled for it, despite having acknowledged (or at least started to acknowledge) your initial error—what the hell?
In the fragile state one finds oneself in while trying to get off psych meds, even if there have been some concurrent substance-abuse issues, such damning energy from others causes psychic harm and impairs recovery. I’ve also seen some of this in the survivor/recovery movement, too: “Oh, you abused your benzos? I just took them as prescribed, so I’m not sure what to tell you…”
Again, as if on a neuronal level your brain cared from where and how the chemicals were introduced. Again, as if “addicts” were somehow worse than anyone else—never mind that American society has a huge blind spot for those addicted to power, money, fame, and digital-age distractions; and never mind that “addicts” are certainly not the only people in the history of the human race who have harmed others, deliberately or not.
Your focus in the withdrawal state should be on your recovery, and not on who’s to blame for your reaching this point. This power lies completely in your hands; the answer lies completely within you. As to other people, if they can’t be supportive and take your story at face value, then they are more hindrance than help and you might consider exorcizing them from your life so you can focus on getting better.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
A great piece on an important issue, Matt. I agree that it is so not helpful to get stuck in the anger and wanting someone to own what they did that caused us such harm. I know because I went down that path – and still can on any given day. It really became a thing of necessity to learn to live outside of the things you describe and find that place of peace regardless of what others said to me or thought about me. It would have been nice to have support when I was going through the worst of it but that was not an option at the time and most often still isn’t. As you point out even in the recovery/survivor movement it is often about “owning up and moving on”. I had to make peace with that in order to get my life back. Thank you for another great essay.
Well said. Anger, like many other emotions in life, has its place, but it depletes us of our needed strength for recovery and prevents us from building emotional bridges to others.
I disagree your attitude and assess you idea as anti-growth.
In fact everything is the opposite of what you say. Anger creates needed energy , anger in itself and by itself is healthy, an desired state of advanced being, is invigorating and a necessary component of personality reconstruction (not ‘recovery’), and what better emotional bridge do you have with others than by sharing your anger or by identifying destructive enemies and thoroughly and absolutely rejecting them. If you cannot share anger with others nor tolerate the non-violent expression of their angers you have a rickety emotional bridge.
“Recovery’ is a Pharma word created by the Pharmaceutical Industry that they use to mean mind-washing the “consumer’, often with Pharm-anti-therapy aka “Talk-Therapy’ (as opposed to genuine psychotherapy) propping them up with social agency support and placing the patient in an chemo-emotional strait jacket. If people mean something else other than this meaning I advise them to use another word and reject the word that was introduced by Pharma to promote the Pharma Agenda and the Pharma paradigm. So long as you use the Pharma words you are trapped in the Pharma paradigm.
I advise all those who want genuine change to stop using the meaningless and confusing terminology of the Pharma paradigm and use words of real meaning that involve real cure/ personality reconstruction/ personality-character change of functioning.
(I just gave everyone several alternatives).
Pharma terminology is the terminology of failure , so long as you use it you are trapped in failure.
It doesn’t matter if every member of your peer group uses it, take a stand and stop using it. The world changes with one person.
“Emotions have their place”??!! – that’s Pharma talk – Emotions ARE the place. Emotions are the ambrosia and caviar. Without emotions there is no time, no experience of time, the Pharma sedated do do not experience time and without time there is no experience of life.
I appreciate your article, Matt, and it certainly has relevance to my own experience. After all the years I had stolen from me, staying angry is just wasting even more years, isn’t it? Usually I have my anger under control until, for instance, a loved one says something like “You respond very well to treatment” or “ECT saved your life,” then I’m enraged and let him/her have it. I’m angry because I have a lot to be angry about! At the same time, though, I know I simply have to learn to let it go. It’s very hard but you know that.
I watched the video..so you have a “panic disorder” and an incurable one at that.
Isn’t science wonderful? it took us 4,000 years of civilization to invent a panic disorder along with the medication needed to neutralize it and our brains.
I feel so smug, my prehistory ancestors just didn’t know what they would be missing.
That was supposed to be a main post, not a reply to Francesca.
Thank you for this article. I have been med free for almost six years now. I’m still in the angry phase, but working through it. But I feel in a way I have a right to be angry because I had an easily recognized medical mistake, covered up with a complex one (a bad drug cocktail), which resulted in misdiagnosis and egregious miss-medication to proactively prevent a malpractice suit, according to all my medical records. But I can say, “it is easier now I have someone to blame.” And I do wish my former doctors would apologize.
But I am heartbroken that over a million children have been turned into bipolar patients in the exact manner I was made sick. Psychiatrists have known how to cover up malpractice with their drugs for decades, according to a pastor friend of mine. The bipolar epidemic should not have happened, competent practitioners should have known better. But I understand they were deluded by misinformation, too.
I have been working through my anger by updating my former doctors with information, and trying to explain to them how I healed myself, in the hopes this will help them learn how to heal their current patients. I don’t know if they will actually become doctors who want to help patients, instead of harming them, or not. I know they’re highly embarassed they underestimated my research abilities, and those of all of you here. Thank you so much, by the way. And I am very grateful to know others are struggling with the same issues as I.
Having been off meds for a full year now, I am so looking forward to complete recovery. I spent much of the past year angry… at my doctor, my psychiatrist and my situation. Thus far, my anger has not helped in my recovery. Educating myself by reading books, websites and joining support groups has been good therapy. Recovery is ever so slow. Lately I am trying to look at it monthly, as I don’t see it daily. I know I’m better this month compared to last. My anger has turned to apathy… which is at times worse. When I was angry, I was more energetic… apathy is like purgatory. No matter who is to blame… we can all earn the credit by helping ourselves… or better yet, helping others. Thank you for all your posts. It motivates me.
“Thus far, my anger has not helped in my recovery”.
Perhaps you needn’t give up on it. It’s only been a year- you can probably eventually resolve these feelings rather than give up on them or suppress them, As your experience showed – suppression just leads to a horrid vacuity.
I would suggest your anger tells you who harmed you and why and protects you and guides you. Doesn’t it? If a person wakes up from emotional med-death what greater mentors and friends could you have but anger and pain?
Maybe the problem really is that a false idea of pharma-med “recovery” has not helped your anger. Just be angry – what’s so bad about it anyway except that it annoys most of the people who wish to control you?
But I understand you saying something is going wrong in a complex situation – you simply feel stuck.
Just remember what the Pharma anti-therapists want – they want you to avoid pain, avoid negative feelings – so of course they are never resolved, you undergo no growth process and then the pill will send you to your final mind resting place.
” Still, I hold that wasting energy—any energy—on this crap gets in the way of the primary goal of healing.”
“Blaming someone for his essential and probably unchangeable nature gets you nowhere— only angrier. I know; we all do it”
This latter is the key statement which is incorrect and is responsible for some of the misguided thought here.I also do not like the anti-anger comments in the follow-up and I would challenge them, though I don’t have time to write in detail everything I want to say.
Acknowledging cause or blame does get you somewhere – it get you survival it teaches you to find the positive and stay away from the negative and the idea that you are somehow forced to get angry by this is a misunderstanding of the personal growth process. No one is tied to any circumstance of life or forced to be manipulated by life. Our emotions can and do change and in the natural process change for the better, Denying the reality of life to avoid inner change or suppressing one’s emotion is a very self-constraining solution. However acceptance of both outside and ‘inside’ will bring problem resolution and peace.
‘this crap’ is actually the essential stuff of your life which gives gives energy and is healing… unless you are misusing and not accepting the crap… but I’m saying the crap itself is not to blame.
People (and organizations) who are to blame (for hurting you, destroying you etc) are people who are to blame.
“id est quod est”
It is what it is – later, hopefully you will not be angry so much or at all and maybe you will even forgive some of the SOB’s but you will always understand what is an SOB, to you.
That is one of your basic truths – don’t throw it away.
Your gut instincts and emotions will tell you who your enemies are , who wishes you harm – your rational (perhaps medicated .. and thus the purpose of medication) brain never will. So give proper creds and respects to your anger for giving you life, for protecting you, and being part of your life.
I understand though the problem process presented here and commend the author his efforts. I myself have not had this “blame game” problem which I understand as simply a problem of avoidance displacement.
Neither blame nor anger is a problem to me – they are gifts – that is from my tradition.
The problem here seems to be only to avoid working on oneself by displacing to some complex of anger and blame.
But what I say is those things anger and blame are not to blame.
Don’t blame blame – celebrate it.
No the problem thus is avoidance – blaming blame – suppressing blame, suppressing anger does not in itself create self-work.
Only not doing self-work is to be blamed for not doing self-work. Suppressing anger, giving up blame will not help you do the self-work – that’s borrowing from Peter to pay Paul and the piper still has to be paid.
“railing on your psychiatrist for doing what most psychiatrists do simply wastes your energy, energy that would be better spent tending to yourself.”
I would challenge everything in that statement. You follow your natural angers you are creating energy and tending to yourself.
But wait! the essential detail of the circumstances is missing. Did you actually avoid self-work in a specific situation or is this simply a life process- natural anger and natural experience as you share your life with another, or self-reflect on what has happened to you and by sharing it thus changing it.
One is destructive and one is constructive.
The devil is in the details, or the intent. the exact specific details ie ‘the narrative’ – the full shared experience -which was missing in the example. .
So I’m saying – it is the intent that is the problem not the basic building blocks of life.
For the constructive side – I certainly would celebrate it – railing about “Dr PushPill” or even better directly to him sounds like a lot of fun. I could really get into a good creative rant – it would multiply all my facilities and experience.
Ay, here’s the rub the question – is how well are you enjoying it – a distillation reaction to one of the poisons of life and if you are not loving it , why not?
If you are really digging it you will move on after one or a few times – you will use it up , it will lose it’s lustre.
It’s good to direct our awareness on towards that the idea that we can use our so-called negative feelings destructively or constructively and that depends on our meta-feeling: how we develop our feelings about our feelings. A psychological truth is we get to choose how to feel about our feelings and how to react to them , but we don’t get to choose them. The most constructive strategy is to learn to love and accept all our emotions.
The essay above uses the word ‘should’ either directly or indirectly many times. Each use of the word ‘should’ means an
expectation is at play which generates either “sad or mad” when it is broken. I advise people who wish self-growth to visualize an alarm siren going off every time they speak or write the word “should” (my siren was a psychotherapist who castigated me). At that point rephrase the sentence or thought without the word should – in doing this you are forced to think without an expectation – and are thus transcending yourself towards ‘acceptance’
When the intent is self-growth (as opposed to using anger or any emotion for ulterior purposes) , acceptance is a way to convert anger – we give it up – nothing at all needs change on the outside. (Natural) anger can never be given up by suppression – we change by allowing and nourishing emotions.
“I tend to launch into F-bomb-laden tirades when I’m stuck behind some pokey driver on the two-lane roads near my house. I know I shouldn’t and I know it’s pointless, but I do it anyway”
Driving is one of the life cases in which I recommend emotional suppression. If you can’t stop being angry, pull over and stop driving. A car is a deadly weapon and you are endangering your life as well as endangering and terrorizing others.
(You here = everyone).
Anger here is obviously a neurotic problem as the relationship between driver and (all other drivers is impersonal – the social order will not and cannot change according to to whims and expectations of one individual. If any such person expects this, it is irrational and a problem of neurosis that needs to be resolved – if not by oneself then in a psychotherapy group.
So solve the emotional problem in a safe place when you can before you go driving again.
Notice there were two expectations in that sentence. The expectation of others is irrational and unrealistic. In the wide world , what happens is what happens, if we are contending with what happens we are in synch with reality, we are healthy, if we are contending with what we expect to happen we are in fantasy and cruising for a bruising as it were..
Holding on to this expectation leads to anger and quite possibly conflict and death.
The expectation of self is also unrealistic here ie that one feels anger but thinks that one shouldn’t feel angry – this warps the emotions, basic survival instincts and growth process of an individual. And that one is a big mess that will need some time to sort out.
Cars are deadly weapons –
“If you nerves aren’t like steel , don’t do the wheel.”
“when your life is in shambles, you want nothing more than to get it back”
It seems the author is using a different paradigm and maybe has a different kind of problem. He wants to return to something he previously had. Maybe that is good,then again maybe not a good idea or perhaps he never had it – I guess only he will assess it and tell us if he gets there.
My comments were referring to those with or formerly with mental illness/ emotional illness. I don’t think the majority in this group can ‘recover’ because there is nothing that they ever had that they can go back to – they need to develop/reconstruct/reintegrate/ cure into wellness.
From Pharma’s perspective for say a SZ, only the symptoms and some disruptive social behavior are the problem therefore the symptoms once stopped and the patient in a policed environment, the patient has ‘recovered’
This is something like regarding the outer shell only, the outer behavior only.
“Knock-knock anyone home?” – doesn’t matter.
“if any one was unhappy we certainly would have heard”.
In fact as a cured SZ I know by reverse engineering of a sort, that SZ was a structural condition which existed regardless of any external, positive or psychotic conditions. I can see in my history a rather typical progressive development and it is very clear functionally how it happened, working with one part of my brain tied up as it were. And incidentally it is unimportant in a functional sense why I started that way. (ie nature versus nurture or both)
And when that structural condition was resolved there was no possibility of those flamboyant billion dollar conditions ever existing in myself again.
To the point – recovery is a totally inappropriate and even deceitful term to apply towards the positive change of anyone experiencing or troubled by mental illnesses.Health lies in changing, transforming, restructuring or resolving – not in going back to anything previous.
“recovery is a totally inappropriate and even deceitful term to apply towards the positive change of anyone experiencing or troubled by mental illnesses.Health lies in changing, transforming, restructuring or resolving – not in going back to anything previous.”
Thanks for all the comments that you’ve added to this page, by this point. They’re great.
I deeply appreciate your overall message, and I recommend that readers of your comments read all of them, as a whole — as what you say, generally, makes a lot of sense.
I try to keep the “recovery” word sandwiched in quotation marks — even when just thinking about ‘recovery’ — because it means a lot of different things to different people.
What’s more, I am not into the “SZ” label (so I always keep “schizophrenia” in quotation marks), and I believe “mental illness” is a metaphor. To see all people as individuals, I prefer to drop the psych labels altogether.
However, I see how your talking about your “cured SZ” is positively empowering for you, and I would not want anyone to take such power away, so I’ll not argue with your use of language (at least, not in that respect).
The most important thing is that you’re on a road that works for you.
I get a strong sense from your message, that, without a doubt, you’ve fully transcended the dominant paradigm (which tends to destroy people who are tagged with the “SZ” label).
So, in fact, I say keep doing what you’re doing, and more power to you!
And, please allow me to just add this:
“Health lies in changing, transforming, restructuring or resolving – not in going back to anything previous.”
About “not…going back to anything previous”:
I suppose for some people (including yourself), that may well be best.
But, for others (e.g., myself), establishing health may have required ‘going back’ to something (perhaps, some small but really quite beautiful ‘missing’ piece of ourselves) that was lost along the way.
About the issue of anger (and other emotions), I tend to agree with what you’re saying.
Maybe what needs to be emphasized is that the larger culture in which we live is not prepared to receive healthy expressions of anger; therefore, almost any expressions of anger are condemned.
So, about your saying in your comment above (July 5, 2013 at 10:38 pm),
“For the constructive side – I certainly would celebrate it – railing about “Dr PushPill” or even better directly to him sounds like a lot of fun. I could really get into a good creative rant – it would multiply all my facilities and experience.”
I’m not sure what you mean by “creative rant,” but I do know that most psychiatrists are not keen on accepting any degree of anger, from their so-called “patients”; and, as I’m sure you well know, there is an extraordinary power differential between psychiatrists and their “patients”; hence, psychiatric “patients” who become in any way ‘confrontational’ toward their psychiatrists are courting disaster. (The bottom line: It would be potentially dangerous for many “patients” to express virtually any anger toward their psychiatrists.)
With respect to what makes for good therapy, whatever is therapeutic for all parties involved, is good, of course.
But, I believe that some forms of therapy tend to be better for more people than other forms of therapy; some forms of therapy only work for a few; and, all good therapy (whether formal or informal) will eventually ‘teach’ us that there are different strokes for different folks…
Again, I must emphasize: IMO you’ve added much value to this page.
(I haven’t seen you commenting previously. Now looking forward to reading more of your comments…)
P.S. — skybluesight,
One line that I wrote (above) may require clarification (I am now realizing, upon rereading it):
I said that, for some people, including myself,
“establishing health may have required ‘going back’ to something (perhaps, some small but really quite beautiful ‘missing’ piece of ourselves) that was lost along the way.”
To be perfectly clear, I could well have added (and probably would have done well adding) the following line:
Nonetheless, I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say, “Health lies in changing, transforming, restructuring or resolving.”
[In fact, one of my favorite ‘therapy’ quotes, of all time is, “The I of the past is someone akin to me, and I care about his historical doing, but he is not me now.” (That’s from a great book, by David K. Reynolds, Ph.D. — Playing Ball on Running Water.)]
Simply, IMO: we may positively change, transform, restructure and resolve while also honoring — and even maintaining — certain cherished elements of who we were, in the past.
Let me explain what “cured” means:
Cured is cured.
A different personality is a different personality.
A restructured personality is a restructured personality.
You can’t put a tree back in an acorn. I’m cured whether I want it or not.
I’m not on a ‘road that works for me’ in this regard. I got off that road 35 years ago.I’m not doing anything to be cured or stay cured – I could be as dissolute as I want to be – if I want to be and sometimes I am.
I don’t need to talk about SZ and be empowered by my talking. I was cured over 35 years ago, for 25 years after being cured I paid no attention to the mental health field and all those involved in it. I just lived my life.
This is what cured means – this is what it means to resolve a mental illness. You are free to do whatever you want with your life – you can screw it up as much as you like or don’t like, you don’t have to care what anybody thinks or follow anyone’s advice.
Cured is free.
And I believe this is possible for many others based upon my many interviews and experiences with them and comparing my experience pre-cure to theirs. They DO need to be on a road, and unfortunately they are not.
The road’s closed.
Pharma cops closed the road.
It’s the great disaster of this age.
What I actually decide to do and how to live is in fact healthy and I have internalized growth principles and do always work on myself.
But this is a whole different story – this is just deciding what to do with my life once I had it.
“But, for others (e.g., myself), establishing health may have required ‘going back’ to something (perhaps, some small but really quite beautiful ‘missing’ piece of ourselves) that was lost along the way.”
What is it you want to ‘recover” here? This actually sounds like something different – not necessarily in conflict with what I expressed.
Thanks for your excellent reply.
(The more I read you, the more certainly I look forward to reading your further comments, here on this website.)
I believe I get what you’re saying, and I trust what you say is entirely true for you; you feel, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that you’ve been “cured” (or, really, you’ve “cured” yourself) of a supposed “mental illness,” that you refer to, as “SZ”.
I do get that that’s true for you; simply, I don’t believe “SZ” (“schizophrenia”) refers to a clearly identifiable set of phenomena.
Furthermore, in as much as ‘it’ (i.e., whatever people call “schizophrenia”) is considered by many to represent a singular set of phenomena that ostensibly comprise ‘a “mental illness”’ (and, please know, IMO it’s perfectly fine if you do call ‘it’ that), I point out (just once again): IMO ‘mental illness’ is a *metaphor* — not a real/physical illness nor even a scientifically validated reality.
In the interest of avoiding being repetitive here, I refer you to a comment I just recently posted, under Jill Littrell, Ph.D.’s latest blog (“A Close Look at Andreasen et al.’s Advice to Increase the Dosage of Antipsychotics to Prevent Brain Volume Reduction”).
Finally (for now), about your closing question (“What is it you want to ‘recover” here? This actually sounds like something different – not necessarily in conflict with what I expressed.”)
Thank you for asking that question.
My answer: First and foremost, I’d like to recover (really, fully recover) my ‘dream’ of becoming a successful artist.
Prior to meeting up with psychiatry, I believed in myself, that I could become a successful artist.
(In so many ways, that ‘dream’ was literally *crushed* — all but totally — by my exposures to medical-coercive psychiatry.)
By the way, IMO it’s wonderful that you used the acorn metaphor.
(You explained, “You can’t put a tree back in an acorn.”)
What ultimately becomes of any plant’s seed (e.g., how exactly the plant may grow… and whether or not it shall thrive or fail to thrive) cannot be predicted by examining only that seed, from which it sprouts; and, yet, the *essence* of a plant exists in its seed.
An oak tree is derived from an acorn (according to Google, “a smooth oval nut in a rough cuplike base”); that nut is the seed from which it sprouts.
There’s a fine book by James Hillman, titled, The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling.
The author explains early on, in Chapter 1 (page 6):
I believe that, while you insist up and down that you’ve had a complete change of personality, were Hillman to enter this conversation, he might say you had, in fact, ‘just’ found ways of becoming more entirely yourself.
And, he might add, that: This being yourself is naturally satisfying to you.
Now (all speculation aside, as to what Hillman might say), I will tell you, honestly, my feeling about what you’re saying is, that: What you are referring to as a past condition (you call it “SZ” and “mental ilness”) I presume involved a lot hedging and hiding — and *maybe* also some acting *seemingly* ‘crazy’ (i.e. not being fully yourself).
Now, that’s long behind you; you feel entirely free to be yourself — really yourself, no acting whatsoever — completely regardless of others’ opinions.
Therefore, quite as you indicate, none shall divert you from this way of being.
That’s what you call being “cured”.
(I call it being completely true to your inner acorn.)
Coming to a place of such wholly positive self-certainty is truly a great accomplishment (for anyone who achieves it), regardless of what we call it… IMO.
P.S. — for those who may be unfamiliar with James Hillman…
A few lines from Wikipedia:
“James Hillman (April 12, 1926 – October 27, 2011) was an American psychologist. He studied at, and then guided studies for, the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, founded a movement toward archetypal psychology and retired into private practice, writing and traveling to lecture, until his death at his home in Connecticut on October 27, 2011…”
“I do get that that’s true for you; simply, I don’t believe “SZ” (“schizophrenia”) refers to a clearly identifiable set of phenomena.”
You have to come to land somewhere. Where do you have contact with ‘reality’ and it’s burdens?
The people that helped cure me never mentioned “SZ” nor did I. I only worked on fear and other emotions and transformed them.In one precise day the changes stopped being incremental and became qualitative.
So I’m saying neither I nor my guides worked in abstracts and ‘work’ is the key word here.
After that I had to make up words for it , ‘my transformation’ ‘cured of ‘SZ’.
and yes, I even got a sign-off from a psychiatric institute that was not involved in the psychotherapy but acknowledged the results.
It was no big deal to me what it was called – it was just a fact of life I was cured of “SZ (the 70’s) and probably I thought I couldn’t be so unique. But I didn’t know the psychotherapy group was unique and that real psychotherapy was being snuffed out replaced by Pharma’s fake psychotherapy aka “Talk Therapy”.
It wasn’t til a few years later I found out the ‘SZ’ was supposed to be an incurable brain disease ad that there is an 80 Billion dollar Industry backed by a propaganda machine that denies my existence and others like myself.
“You have to come to land somewhere. Where do you have contact with ‘reality’ and it’s burdens?”
I love that you’ve offered such a wonderful line — and great response to my line –> [“I do get that that’s true for you; simply, I don’t believe “SZ” (“schizophrenia”) refers to a clearly identifiable set of phenomena.”]
Contact with ‘reality’ — (as I understand it) — does not come from labels (and, *least* of all, from psychiatric labels).
The following link provides a fine intro to a ‘phenomenological’ and ‘existential’ way of thinking, about human realities, that I quite appreciate…
I very sincerely wonder, if you have a chance to read it, whether you will appreciate that blog post, as I do.
After all, its author, who is a psychotherapist, speaks of addressing people labeled “SZ” — yet, clearly, has no intention of curing anyone of anything.
If you have time to study his words, perhaps, you can offer thoughts in response?
In fact, I’d be quite interested in reading your take on that blog entry (“PEOPLE – Not labels or categories”).
IMO this is a really interesting blog you’ve posted, but it must be read *carefully* (I’ve read it three or four times already).
I can see how different commenters drew slightly different conclusions about your intended message, from reading it.
If I read it correctly, you are emphasizing the need to keep an even keel while going through the symptoms of drug ‘withdrawal’.
And, it seems to me that your allusion to the raging wild fires is *not* exactly an allusion to raging anger; it is an allusion to the vicissitudes of that long ‘withdrawal’ process you endured — after you ceased taking the psych drugs (which were benzos).
[One gets an even better idea about what that post-benzos withdrawal was for you by watching the video – which I very highly recommend watching. That video is very well done. Kudos to Kermit (the filmmaker).]
Maybe what some people who’d say that really mean is that they’re not sure what to tell you – because they’re guessing, from all that you say, that you were taking more pills than they were (hence, they may presume your withdrawal symptoms may be considerably worse than anything they’ve experienced).
I quit a handful of psych drugs nearly twenty-five years ago – amongst them were benzos. I was taking them only as prescribed. All of the psych drugs I was taking were as prescribed. And, I was only taking them, as I’d been *forced* to take them (repeatedly); in fact, just a couple of months previous, I’d tried to reject the psych drugs without becoming even the least bit angry; and, I wound up being railroaded back into the so-called “hospital” (because, according to the way I’d been tagged by psychiatry, I *supposedly* needed the drugs to survive).
Hence, it seemed to me, at last, that my *rejecting* those drugs successfully would literally require my getting *angry* (but, at that time, getting angry only privately) at psychiatry.
I needed to create a kind of emotional ‘firewall’ between myself and psychiatry — in order to keep my family from talking me into going back to psychiatry.
I developed that ‘firewall’ by allowing myself to begin privately tapping into my natural anger — even rage — toward psychiatry; I would cultivate my antipathy for psychiatry, privately, in handwritten journals.
As it happens, I was never really angry at any of my psychiatrists, as individuals — but was angry at psychiatry, generally; and, not infrequently, I recall *most* of my psychiatrists (privately) as ‘fools’. (Note: I recall most of them that way – not all of them. And, the reason I recall them that way is because, clearly, they did not know what they were doing; their ‘treatment’ methods were inadvertently making their “patients” worse.)
It was all a long time ago; so, off hand, my recollections of the ‘withdrawal’ effects are somewhat fuzzy.
I well recall that they were quite, quite challenging, at first; but, they did *mainly* pass after several months’ time. (My recollection is that the worst of the ‘withdrawal’ period was the first month after quitting the psych drugs; and after a year’s time, I was –- as far as I could tell — pretty much ‘finished’ with the really noticeable after-effects.)
So, the truth is, back then, I probably wouldn’t have known what to say to someone such as yourself, had I encountered you in the midst of withdrawals, such as you’ve described — especially, as you refer to such a long period of withdrawals (seven years, apparently).
If I’d encountered you during that time, and I had told you that, “I don’t know what to say,” it would *not* have been a form of judgment; it would simply mean, ‘Hey, I just don’t know what to say – because you’re having a somewhat different experience than I had.’
Apropos of the overall conversation, on this page, to this point (conversation which largely regards your title, which IMO naturally raises this question, of, ‘When is it OK to blame anyone for anything?’), I would encourage all people (not just psychiatric survivors) to look themselves in a mirror and earnestly ask themselves this question: ‘What sufferings have I endured that were actually necessary for my own growth?’
Also, ‘What sufferings have I endured, which I would *not* wish upon anyone? even if my enduring them may, indeed, have added to my growth, in the long run?’
Personally, I would not wish *forced* psychiatric ‘medication’ (nor any other forced brain ‘treatments’) upon anyone.
Finally, as a side note…
Just a few nights ago, my teenage daughter, who’s quite interested in ethology (the science of animal behavior) came to excitedly share with me something she’d just learned. (I’m unsure of whether it was from a book she was reading, at that moment, or from material she’d gathered online).
She explained, “Scientists have proven that butterflies can recall what they ate as caterpillars!” At first, I expressed skepticism, replying, “Scientists say they’ve ‘proven’ all kinds of things that they haven’t necessarily proven. I wonder how they think they’ve proven that?!” She did not elaborate; and, so, still, I would like to know how they think they’ve proven that; however, that I’m skeptical is not to say that I think it’s impossible that they have proven it, and if they have proven it, then I think this small bit of knowledge can provide a useful metaphor for advancing concepts of personal growth and transformation. (For me, it will be like referring to the lotus blossom, which thrives on the nutrients from a muddy swamp.)
While I am absolutely *never* one to encourage people to presume that *all* their sufferings were somehow ‘necessary’ for their growth, I do believe, that, to some extent, we’ve required certain ‘sufferings’ we’ve been through. I feel it’s best left to each of us, to decide which ‘sufferings’ were needed to inspire our positive growth and transformations.
P.S. — Matt, regarding your having written this,
Actually, I believe, from personal experience, that the 12-Step process of overcoming addictions can be helpful (even as I realize it can have pitfalls, too).
12-Step meetings were *very* helpful for me (as were Buddhist meetings), as I’d come to rejecting psych ‘meds’ once-and-for-all, nearly a quarter-century ago; but, here I must be emphatic, in stating, that: I did *not* tell most people in those meetings the full extent of what I was going through.
(In fact, I did not tell *anyone* about the ‘withdrawal’ effects I was experiencing.)
In N.A. meetings, it’s very common for people to say, “I did what you did” — and leave it at that (which is basically their saying that they don’t want to offer any details about the *kinds* of drugs they’ve come to reject).
In those meetings, I don’t recall sharing anything of my personal story, in front of the group; I felt it was good enough to sit in the back of a room and listen to people sharing about what they were going through.
On the other hand, I did share in CODA meetings (Codependents Anonymous) about issues in my life (at that time), of codependency.
Really, I felt I needed somewhere to be with people — while I was in the midst of the early, fairly extreme effects of withdrawing from psych ‘meds,’ and N.A. meetings provided a place to go… CODA meetings provided another place.
I actually gained a *lot* from the CODA meetings (I learned a lot and made a fair number of heartfelt connections, which, though they were not long-enduring, were quite genuinely meaningful, at the time).
I felt no need to discuss my ‘withdrawal symptoms’ with anyone, as I was going through them; and, so, I never did discuss them (not with anyone, anywhere).
If, perhaps, you or anyone else might be interested, I offered my thoughts on 12-Step programs (and meetings) and withdrawal from psych ‘meds’ …in another thread, of MIA comments (under Daniel Mackler’s February 25, 2013 blog post, “Components for a Good Neuroleptic Withdrawal Program”):
Hi Matt, I haven’t had a chance to read through everyone else’s comments, so am not sure if mine are repetitive, but here’s my initial thought for what it’s worth:
Although I appreciate much of what you’re saying here, I disagree with some fundamental piece of it. In my experience, anger, fight, and time spent on advocacy, telling one’s story, etc… Can all be very powerful and positive. For many, I have seen that sort of fight be just the energy that people need to move, and grab ahold of something very different than where they’ve been stuck for so many years.
Yes, I’ve also seen people be consumed by it. It’s a delicate balance, as with so many things…
But anger is important, and valid, and worthwhile in many ways… I’d hate to see that be minimized.
Anger is a good and necessary thing but then one has to work through it and move on or else it might damage you. I am currently watching my son wrestling with it, unable to move beyond it. His anger was constructive to start with but now it is getting in his way and he is stuck with it.
“Again, as if “addicts” were somehow worse than anyone else—never mind that American society has a huge blind spot for those addicted to power, money, fame, and digital-age distractions; and never mind that “addicts” are certainly not the only people in the history of the human race who have harmed others, deliberately or not.”
I remembered this so I thought it was worthwhile to point out.
Here is an expression of “anger” But in fact probably this is something like the ‘blame game’. Here anger is used for another purpose , in fact the originator in this contact probably cares little about the content of anger he may even no longer feel anger about his subject but is now using a little piece of learned behavior. Anger here is used as an attack for the defense of ego. The author here is defending from criticism which may may have been offered either constructively or destructively – I don’t know the circumstances. If it was presented constructively in an mutually agreed upon context to receive critical analysis them the anger response falls into the category of ego defense of perhaps defense of neurosis.There are methods of learning how to not react defensively to any form of criticism while at the same time absorbing the greatest possible truth for oneself (such as ‘fogging’).
It doesn’t matter, the context is not that important, the point is anger is used here for another purpose, so it’s not the anger that is a problem it is how it is used.
Sharing anger and pain about a life experience without an agenda is a different context.
Recovery makes me feel ill in the same way that biological psychiatry does so I reject it. Anger can mean survival and when harnessed there’s nothing more powerful than a survivor calmly speaking of torture and what others can learn from the experience and do/not do
I think it’s important to distinguish between blame, which I find tends to keep us stuck, and correct assignment of responsibility, which I find tends to free us. To blame someone else for how you feel tends to make it difficult to escape the fact that you can’t change what they did to you. It can become a long-term bitterness from which it is hard to escape.
However, appropriate anger at someone for acting destructively can energize us to defend ourselves or attack the correct target to assure that we or others are not abused further. In my experience, it can sometimes be critical for someone with a history of abusive relationships and interactions to learn how and when to contact and use their anger for purposes of self-protection and the promotion of justice. Often, it has not been safe to feel or act on their anger due to the dangers of the abusive environment, and they have learned to suppress anger in exchange for self-blame. Undoing this suppression can be the most important aspect of learning a new way of being in the world.
Blaming others for our anger is seldom helpful. Choosing righteous indignation at abuse or injustice that we have experienced can be incredibly powerful and effective in helping us be motivated to take action against those who are willing to abuse us for their own gain, or simply out of their own ignorance.