Listening to the Voiceless Citizens

Margaret Altman, MSW
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Just this morning CNN reported that 3 men were arrested over plans to travel from N.Y. to join ISIS and one of them posted online about his plans to assassinate the President. Cyberspace and social media are the platforms from which terrorists speak, express their ideas and exert powerful influences over some individuals in this and other countries.  The voices of terrorists are clearly compelling and appealing. Their voices are being responded to in dangerous ways.

This relates very intimately to the issue of “Voicelessness” and the people that I advocate for in several ways.

The voiceless population as I see it includes;

  • Individuals in emotional pain who are rendered mute by the lack of informed and compassionate response and care from the mental health system,
  • Individuals who are incapacitated by the numbing effects of being on medication and coming off medication,
  • Individuals who are subjected to the often tyrannical behavior of doctors who prescribe the medication and label people with diagnoses that are unsupported and will be a burden, perhaps for a lifetime
  • Other groups must also be included in this group that has been silenced and is unable to voice their thoughts and feelings;
  • Individuals (child and adult) who are abused and threatened with violence if they “speak”
  • Individuals who, due to poverty and lack of opportunity, do not have the willpower, the access to resources or the power to evoke a response to their cries of distress and discrimination

Many of the people in the second group become members of the first group and visa versa. They are all one and as they migrate from one group to another they become lost, more distressed and more easily dismissed.  For all of these individuals, the rights and privileges of “free speech” are terribly restricted. When they do express their painful feelings and thoughts the message is often not heard, dismissed and labeled as aggressive, or “’crazy” or “un-American.”  When groups of these individuals vent their pent-up frustration, they are viewed as dangerous, violent, and the police or security guards are called in to restore “peace” and “quiet” and silence. I do not condone property destruction as we have witnessed thanks to instant media coverage. I do understand the buildup of rage and how, when there has been no or little listening to the messages of anger, it can explode into destructive acts.

Many informed sources have noted that the terrorist’s “message” appeals to the voiceless individuals in our country (and others). The Voiceless, as we know, are the most vulnerable to tyrants, manipulators and those who prescribe a formulaic way to gain attention and become powerful in some way. The question is; do we shut down the social media propaganda machine for terrorists or we listen to the messages that all of our Voiceless citizens are desperately trying to convey?

It may be that expanding our consciousness of who is without a voice and how many individuals are vulnerable, angry, afraid and humiliated may help in moving towards reform by improving our listening skills. Too often we listen to the loudest voice, the voice that appears to be backed by some powerful force, the voice that seems to soothe our tensions and point us in some direction or that confirms our own journey. Those among us who are abused, poor, stigmatized, humiliated and manipulated have one thing in common- we need to be heard and responded to. The answer to CNN’s question on whether to shut down the terrorist’s access to social media is that it may be more worthwhile to expand this privilege to those who have vital messages to convey.  And if they don’t yet have the access or skills to convey the message we must do it for them.

10 COMMENTS

  1. The voiceless,

    A riot is the language of the unheard.

    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/martinluth115061.html

    Recently heard that one on TV.

    Psychiatry mistreated me after making me sick for years, my protest after learning the truth about it was to say no more, take your labels and keep you sick brain pills and stick them someplace not very nice.

    I recently volunteered at a “dual diagnosis” place and saw people in the beginning and middle of my story, if they are lucky and figure out whats going on like I did.

    When will they ever stop the same crap ? People coming in after turning to alcohol or drugs trying deal with this one size fits all life we are expected to live, jobs , bills, housing ripoff slavery stressful robotic existence plus relationships only to be given a brand new NIGHTMARE on top of it , the endless road of psychiatric drugging !

    I just lost it when they were starting this one dude on Paxil then maybe Latuda too for his anxiety so that way he doesn’t drink and make a mess of things in his life ? Oh sure, I see a one in 1000 chance of that working and 999 chances of years and years of the “looking for the right meds” torture of side effects and withdrawal reactions being called the “illness” itself.

    At least a 9 out of 10 chance he is going to drink on top of the pills or at the withdrawal reactions if he quits the brain disabling neurotoxins called “medicine”.

    I told my story and said you better figure this out , get your head straight and stop the dumb sh^t like drinking and accepting the role as a mental patient.

    I only drink cause I need the right medication for my anxiety… I heard that several times from people. Good luck with that one.

  2. If there is real compassion for people who suffer : friendship , sanctuary, safe shelter , nutritious real food ,clean pure water, natural modalities like Traditional Naturopathy, Homeopathy,Energy Healing , Body Work, Herbs, natural supplements , Health care like at the Paracelsus Klinic in Switzerland , The Dr. Rau Way . All these are needed . Conventional mainstream guild health care especially psychiatry are a one way ticket to palookaville and / an early and/or excruciating living death or actual death while being robbed of everything at the same time. If your stuck use temporarily , “Escape” and give a listen to survivors .

  3. I found this on the anti-psychiatry site years ago and for me this describes the way I feel almost exactly. By the way the man who wrote this committed suicide.

    TO BE A MENTAL PATIENT IS TO BE STIGMATIZED

    To be a mental patient is to be stigmatized, ostracized, socialized, patronized, psychiatrized.

    To be a mental patient is to have everyone controlling your life but you. You’re watched by your shrink, your social worker, your friends, your family. And then you’re diagnosed as paranoid.

    To be a mental patient is to live with the constant threat and possibility of being locked up at any time, for almost any reason.

    To be a mental patient is to live on $82 a month in food stamps, which won’t let you buy Kleenex to dry your tears. And to watch your shrink come back to his office from lunch, driving a Mercedes Benz.

    To be a mental patient is to take drugs that dull your mind, deaden your senses, make you jitter and drool and then you take more drugs to lessen the “side effects.”

    To be a mental patient is to apply for jobs and lie about the last few months or years, because you’ve been in the hospital, and then you don’t get the job anyway because you’re a mental patient. To be a mental patient is not to matter.

    To be a mental patient is never to be taken seriously.

    To be a mental patient is to be a resident of a ghetto, surrounded by other mental patients who are as scared and hungry and bored and broke as you are.

    To be a mental patient is to watch TV and see how violent and dangerous and dumb and incompetent and crazy you are.

    To be a mental patient is to be a statistic.

    To be a mental patient is to wear a label, and that label never goes away, a label that says little about what you are and even less about who you are.

    To be a mental patient is to never to say what you mean, but to sound like you mean what you say.

    To be a mental patient is to tell your psychiatrist he’s helping you, even if he is not.

    To be a mental patient is to act glad when you’re sad and calm when you’re mad, and to always be “appropriate.”

    To be a mental patient is to participate in stupid groups that call themselves therapy. Music isn’t music, its therapy; volleyball isn’t sport, it’s therapy; sewing is therapy; washing dishes is therapy. Even the air you breathe is therapy and that’s called “the milieu.”

    To be a mental patient is not to die, even if you want to — and not cry, and not hurt, and
    not be scared, and not be angry, and not be vulnerable, and not to laugh too loud —
    because, if you do, you only prove that you are a mental patient even if you are not.

    And so you become a no-thing, in a no-world, and you are not.

    • This is so powerful, indeed, the voice of the unheard.

      Even after having worked as a retail customer service manager for almost 20 years and being an out gay man in Texas, I had never before encountered such aggressive mean-spiritedness and utter cold-heartedness as when I began to study psychology in grad school. It was the most indirect and manipulative communication I’d ever experienced, and seriously the most snarky attitude I’d ever encountered. Seriously uptight and paranoid community.

      What is the deal with this culture of “psychology”??? It is apart from the rest of the world.

  4. This is what I learned today. I went to a women’s resource center because I wanted help in getting a job and getting off this imprisonment of disability, very wrong psychiatric diagnosis, and very bad medications that caused me to get the diagnosis and the subsequent disability in the first place. The so-called nice lady said I can’t help you unless you go to the doctor and he says you are not disabled and then you come off disability. Then, I can get you involved in a women2work program. But, while I am in this program, how do I eat, pay my rent and bills? They can’t guarantee me a job. It is a voiceless ghetto. I know she didn’t believe how the bad drugs made me so very sick. I know she too hs been brainwashed by whatever is brainwashing people these days. Yet, I in my heart and gut that if God didn’t want me to get a job and get off disability and the meds; he wouldn’t have put this in my mind and set it up for me in such a way that it was either get off the meds or basically be like a sick vegetable all my life. In my heart; I know if God closes one door; He opens at the very least a window. I took a good walk and kept thinking that thought. God means for me to well and happy again. He knows that is all a sham that has turned out worse than anything I had sought help for in the first place. I refuse to be stigmatized. I refuse to give up. I refuse to accept any stupid diagnosis. I am not defective. I will be sick no longer. I will never again take those harmful, deadly meds. I will live. God put these ideas in my head; so I know He has a wonderful plan for me and it no longer involves psychiatric abuse!

  5. Margaret, Like Alex says, it’s the one in a million insider that defeats the dehumanizing pranks–prolifically intended in textbooks and tests and licensing procedures–for classifying the life out of people. They might as well just let caregivers CLEP out if they swear by the words “I do” not to question any label and not to oppose any detention or coercive restraint of any type, just in case, no matter who says with their normal voice. “Let’s be sure to default toward the safety zone we keep the handiest” is close enough to be the motto at work here in these fifty states. Thank you for the challenging viewpoint on the causes and their meanings and the precise remarks.