Dismissing the Patriarchal Prescriptions

Tina Minkowitz, Esq.
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I realized something after a recent occurrence that made me aware of how close any of us are to psychiatric lockup.  What I realized is that I can protect myself now; I have tools that I didn’t have at age 18.  And that protecting myself doesn’t mean obeying the patriarchal prescriptions for how to behave.

Saying this, I am also aware of my sisters and brothers who aren’t protected no matter what they do.  I don’t know what it is in my own life that makes me different; but with all my eccentricities being myself I can still pass as a human being recognizably to those who set themselves up to judge.

But for me, the story had been for years that I knew instinctively how to protect myself after that one lockup, because I knew where the danger zones were and I just couldn’t, not even wouldn’t, go there.  Until I started to, because I am a free woman and I have been interacting a lot with other free women.  Free women challenge each other and dismiss each other because each of us is standing in her own self, her own body, having to be clear with her own conscience.  And free women can love each other and nurture each other and distinguish this from violence, subordination, anything that feels like it is meant to make you squirm.

Some of it has to do with the meaning of sex in patriarchy.  Not only are women supposed to eroticize being subordinated, we are supposed to like it.  We are supposed to put on a shit-eating grin and pretend that we are in control.  Lesbians do not relate to male bodies or to heterosexual images or romantic tropes, but we are surrounded by them and contaminated by them.  It is hard to escape into a lesbian free-zone where our bodies are just ours, not overlain by male images or by men’s images of women.  Or by the idea of sex that is handed down to us as acceptance of rape.

When I was locked up in psychiatry, the violation was like rape, in that it went into the space in my mind that had been prepared to be raped, as a female.  While I was not like many of my sisters forcibly stripped and watched in isolation room, or injected in the butt, or subjected to a bodily cavity search, or put into restraints that make you helpless to resist anything that they do to your body, knowing that they could do all that without being able to put it into words, was an inherent part of psychiatric lockup.  And what they did to me, the violation of my body, my brain, inner sanctum of self by the neuroleptic haldol, which I put into my own mouth out of fear of all that they could do if I refused, was an inside-out violation that made me dissociate from my body in ways that rape does to women.

For years the way I coped with having been locked up was simultaneous suppression and anger, pushing it away, speaking out in public from the distance of systemic advocacy, and taking care of others’ feelings about me to avoid it happening again.  Taking care of others’ feelings is what I refused to do in the latest instance.  And probably it is the kind of thing that people who have never been psychiatrized take for granted and it passes unawares, the moment when a stranger thinks about the possibility of calling in the white coats.

What I did instead, I texted a friend who is a lawyer and told her what was going on and that I might need help, and that I’d keep her posted.  Just doing that helped me to get distance on it and detach; also I know how to relax deliberately and I used that to calm myself.  Not to take care of them – not to “be a good girl and be calm so they won’t think you’re nuts” – to let go of the unpleasant encounter and move on.

Patriarchy prescribes to us, à la Freud, that male-paradigm success in work and life – be a star! – and female-paradigm taking care of others – show you are available, not a threat, take a submissive posture and a smile – are the ways to demonstrate mental health.  That is still true long after we thought we had buried Freud in spirit as well as body.

It is fucked up.  And all lesbians deserve to be free from the heterosexual bullshit insinuations that continually question us and deny that we have the possibility to exist.  This bullshit is harming us, especially the young ones.  It has changed form somewhat but is still alive.  All women and girls need to know from the start that sexuality is within us, it doesn’t come from outside, from men or some other person or images that we have to conform to.  As a good friend said to me, start with your own Shakti.

Patriarchal prescriptions come in many forms.  For some of us it is these mass-culture messages we pick up because we are just attuned to that, because we learned to survive by reading the signs in an abusive household, or we’re just smart that way.  For others it’s literally prescriptions by psychiatrists whether for drugs or for therapy, seeing somebody else – usually a male figure – as a guru who tantalizingly holds our own power just out of reach.  Bullshit again.

A few days ago a dear female friend of mine sent me an email that made me cry because it expressed so much love.  It was something I needed to hear just then.

The gathering of voices in the Campaign to Support the CRPD Absolute Prohibition of Forced Treatment and Commitment, was also something I needed to hear.  I want all of us to find our ways to express her or his truth as free women and men.  And an absolute condition of that is actual freedom, which we have created in the CRPD in principle and are fighting to put into reality, including by people making complaints of violations under the Optional Protocol.  (I won’t derail this post in that direction, but email me through this site if you want to learn more.)

I did a lot to bring the CRPD into being.  It is a beautiful thing, and it is now as complete as it’s ever going to be, with the General Comment on Article 12 (legal capacity) and the Guidelines on Article 14 (liberty and security of the person) making it clear that forced treatment and commitment are absolutely prohibited.  There are people who see its beauty as well as its power, and I am grateful for that.

I’m going to resist the temptation to wrap this up nicely with a moral or a happy ending, to make it a recovery story.  I don’t know what will happen tomorrow.  I don’t know if the completeness I feel right now will expand or explode or contract or vanish.  But I want women especially, and lesbians most especially, to hear my gratitude for what you have given me and remember the CRPD is yours and you can have it and use it and make it your own.

36 COMMENTS

  1. I may not agree with you about forced treatment, as I see a rationale for it within the framework of the Public Health variation of the medical model (keeping the staff from getting killed), but I find you correct about lesbianism being a stable personality trait. In Orthomolecular Psychiatry, David Hawkins mentioned treating a small series of male and female homosexual patients with schizophrenia syndrome with early megavitamin therapy. As they recovered, the males’ sexual orientation changed, but the females’ didn’t. As the center he directed was chiefly concerned with medical treatment, leaving psychotherapy to their referring agencies, he found this phenomenon interesting enough to include in his article in the volume.

  2. Nice article. For some people forced psychiatric treatment must be worse than the things that drove them mad. And that reason alone is enough to argue for it to be banned.

    “I’m going to resist the temptation to wrap this up nicely with a moral or a happy ending, to make it a recovery story.” Lol

    I hope CRPD is used more in beating back the dangerous power of psychiatry. Thanks for all your hard work.

    • Psychiatric diagnoses are replaced moral and legal values. They do not take into account, what happens to a man. They postulate is that the cause of what is happening with the man always is in him himself. Not because a person is suffering, outraged, that him inflict pain. But because, what he sick. In principle, they do not distinguish a person from the disease. From their point of view, the man himself is a disease. And they are always ready to fight with a man as with the disease. And that’s why from this desire should be treated. Further not difficult to guess that the prospect of such a “treatment” hundredfold increase the desire to die.

  3. I have been both date raped, and forced treated by doctors. Hands down, the forced psychiatric treatment was much, much, MUCH worse. Good news, however, one of the doctors that had me medically unnecessarily shipped a long distance to him, then “snowed” me with psych drugs, to cover up prior malpractice, was finally convicted … For doing the same thing, and worse to many other patients.

    http://www.newsindiatimes.com/oak-brook-doctor-convicted-in-kickback-scheme

    And as the mother of a daughter who claims to be bi, you may like to know my daughter’s date to her senior homecoming dance, was voted homecoming queen. I thought that was pretty progressive. Thanks for all you do.

  4. “When I was locked up in psychiatry, the violation was like rape”

    It was, I can try and try to find the right mix of words to describe having those mind and body altering chemicals forced inside.

    I really can’t describe to a reader the magnitude of the violation. No matter the what long string of words I cant describe the I don’t want that inside me and them claim they own and can violate sacred inner space. Your body WTF

    Rape is the best word for the act violating inner space.

    Like WTF I was having emotional crisis but I need this body to exist in this world and I choose not to endanger its functions with shit like Haldol cause its the only one I have and I would like to use it for as long as I can I really need it you know ?

    No they Don’t know, SOBs think they owned you can endanger you …

    Go to hell psychiatry.

    • I mean really if I ever am truly a “danger to self or others” chuck me in a rubber room, what ever unlike drugs that’s outside my body.

      This is useless, I was in a crisis and was in the hospital so my credibility is shot right there so only survivors of that shit they call help will get it.

      • That’s what I’ve said many times! Why does a person’s need for protection automatically translate into giving doctors the right to do whatever they want to you in the name of “protection?” Protection is pretty simple – keep away the poisons and sharp objects and don’t let the person attack someone else. Why that leads to the assumption that you need drugs or electricity through your brain to “help” you with your “mental illness” is way beyond rational. If you feel the need to protect someone, protect them. Don’t attack them further in the name of protection!!!

        —- Steve

  5. Rape coupled with a loss of self…. Most of the Psychiatrists were men, but our main tormentors were women (Staff) only a few years older than we were. Subjugation, shame, dehumanization, gas lighting… it’s surreal how quickly they become a norm. You learn to admit guilt for anything you are accused of even when both you and the staff member know it’s a lie. You learn to be meek, to be absent of opinion, to not fight back… Forced treatment, outpatient or inpatient, not only create a breeding ground for widespread and repetitious cruelty, but it has already been established that neither had been historically effective. more over, after the dehumanization, the loss of any aspect of who you were, being trained to be ashamed, subservient, to not be noticed, to keep your head down so no one notices that something is wrong with you…. What’s left of you when they finally release you? You have no means to protect yourself. No way to communicate on a basic social level.

    • “Rape coupled with a loss of self,” especially given the psychiatric lies about “lifelong, incurable, genetic illnesses.” Sexual assault alone doesn’t come near to the mental abuse of being gas lighted by psychiatrists. A rapist wants one night of power over a person, the psychiatrists want their patients’ entire life. Which is more evil?

  6. Psychiatrists make no mistakes and they don’t cause random, “unfavorable” effects. They know, how to destroy the humans nature. They transform a human to an alive nothing. And it quite satisfies them. They are the criminals. And we have to struggle with them as with the criminals. Don’t lie to yourselves, gentlemen. Support the petiton https://goo.gl/sMnJ6y This is necessary as air. It’s enough to open eyes to understand it.

  7. You almost make it sound like they are knowledgeable… That the subjugation etc was born from intellect… Lol what they do is criminal though. It’s very reminiscent to the former USSR’s methods to force prisoners to comply… They also used halperidol… However, the UN (most notably us) were outspoken about the way their methods violated sanctions against torture…

    • Psychiatrists make monstrous atrocities. The very purpose of psychiatry, their goals and objectives – monstrous! It starts their crime with that they did not recognize the value of human individuality. They introduced into use performance about normality, which should certainly match. Each, with their positions abnormal be subject to be change, ie – treatment.
      That is, the destruction of human in their representation and there is – treatment.

  8. Thank you deeply for this article, Tina, and for your work on the CRPD.

    While I am a hetero woman, I totally concur with you regarding the role of male dominance and determination in psychiatry. However, I would suggest that the problems you raise are not confined to lesbians.

    “Some of it has to do with the meaning of sex in patriarchy. Not only are women supposed to eroticize being subordinated, we are supposed to like it. We are supposed to put on a shit-eating grin and pretend that we are in control. Lesbians do not relate to male bodies or to heterosexual images or romantic tropes, but we are surrounded by them and contaminated by them. It is hard to escape into a lesbian free-zone where our bodies are just ours, not overlain by male images or by men’s images of women. Or by the idea of sex that is handed down to us as acceptance of rape.”

    It is men who have determined what is “normal and/or acceptable” behaviour in women, and if we don’t love and submit to everything they say, no matter how alienating and demeaning, then we are “ill”.

    The power imbalance also inherent in the (usually male) psychiatrists-female patient dynamic further exacerbates the unhealthiness of the whole situation. Generations of male dominance and perspectives on femality (I do not wish to use the word “femininity” here) throughout society, coupled with a patriarchy that still seems to hold an underlying belief that females enjoy being dominated (and even raped), means that having a “therapeutic” relationship with a male psychiatrist is pretty well destined to be damaging, be you lesbian or hetero.

    The prospect of the use of involuntary treatment by a female psychiatrist holds many of the same dangers.

    I was forcibly detained and drugged, and yes, it was rape, and yes, I still suffer the trauma. Fortunately I too have been able to stay free, but for a number of years tried to “work through it” with psychiatrists.

    The power, the sexualisation of the relationship (by them actually demanding I “fall in love”) while the whole time knowing they could lock me up and drug me if I didn’t comply or reacted negatively to their requests was just plain sick. It was rape, rape and more rape. A total abuse of power and their situation….and my humanity.

    The whole system was based on coercion and power imbalance and being subjugated in matters that affect us so very deeply at a time of great vulnerability is bound to be catastrophic for any human being.

    For me, the work you are doing re CRPD is some of the most important work that is happening at the moment and, again, I thank you.

    • “The power, the sexualisation of the relationship (by them actually demanding I “fall in love”) while the whole time knowing they could lock me up and drug me if I didn’t comply or reacted negatively to their requests was just plain sick. It was rape, rape and more rape. A total abuse of power and their situation….and my humanity.”

      I had this experience too and it was traumatic. With patience, the fear is subsiding, now that I am safely outside the psychotherapeutic system.

      What’s interesting is that our experiences seem to be very similar, but I am a male married to a female, and the clinicians who hurt me did not share that identity.

      Due to my circumstances I do not have the same personal narrative as the author through which to make sense of our similar situations, aside from an earnest need to seek freedom and truth for everybody. I hope we can all work together to change the status quo, as human beings with different personal identities.

    • “The power, the sexualisation of the relationship (by them actually demanding I “fall in love”) while the whole time knowing they could lock me up and drug me if I didn’t comply or reacted negatively to their requests was just plain sick. It was rape, rape and more rape. A total abuse of power and their situation….and my humanity.”

      This is very well-stated, and I relate completely. This happened to me as well, very blatantly. I have many stories to relate here from, both, personal experience, and what I witnessed as an MFT intern. I changed fields as a healer because I discovered this to be the norm, and impossible to get around. This is what I would consider to be “extreme narcissism,” which to me seemed to permeate the field.

      The overt manipulation and power imbalance I encountered in the psychotherapeutic community was over the top and damaging. I felt this as a student, and then as a client. This is dangerous.

      It is these toxic ‘professional’ relationship dynamics which lead to cruel narcissistic abuse and the systems which protect this behavior, serving only to deepen the trauma which leads a person to seek help in the first place. Breaking this cycle takes a lot of focus, trust, and inner healing work. Not an easy road, but it is a hardy transformation, which I think it’s necessary for the evolution of ourselves and of society.

        • I’m an energy healer and meditation teacher. Mostly, I teach self-healing and also I teach people how to work with their creative process in order to achieve the life experience they most desire. To me, healing and manifesting are two sides of the same coin.

          • Actually, I’m even transitioning our of that now, and I’m becoming a full time filmmaker and music director. I make films about healing, and I have a new film (my second one) being premiered locally soon, which highlights a band I’m in performing for an assisted living facility.

            Healing through music and the arts is my next endeavor as a healer. At this point, I’m trying to go a bit general, rather than working with individuals. The power issue is very challenging–if at all possible–to circumvent, it shows up repeatedly in individual healing work.

          • Very cool! Wishing you the best of luck with your creative endeavors…I certainly identify with your experience in graduate training. What a strange way to “help” people…

            Stay true, brother!

  9. I’m a hetero male with daughter/sons and 7 granddaughters/grandsons and would be ecstatically thrilled if ALL my progeny were lesbian and gay and happily legally married (if they so chose).

    Humanity can NEVER repay the monumental contribution Tina Minkowitz ESQ. has made to humanity, decency, law, human rights and the disabled; EVER! I bow to my waist to her I.Q. monumental achievements and outstanding vision and tenacity to achieve; BRAVA!
    There is no such thing as misogyny, patriarchy, gender-based violence, family-based violence; it is ALL, MALE VIOLENCE.
    Thankfully, we are at the ‘Tertiary Ascendancy Of The Homo Sapiens Female’ whereby solely males, have massively suppressed the highest socio-intellectual potential development of our hominin to human species, by at least 100,000 to 500,000 years; and possibly by up to two million years.
    the science is in: MEN ARE IDIOTS! http://www.menareidiots.net

    On The Deliberate ‘Malevolent-Menace’ of the Global ‘Psychiatry-Pandemic’? >>> MALES!
    http://www.glennfloyd.org/oped.pdf http://www.glennfloyd.org/oratory.pdf http://www.glennfloyd.org/manslaughter.pdf

    • It’s interesting to hear that from a hetro male. When I was young I felt bad for my brothers, since there was an anti-white male mantra going around in the eighties. After dealing with child molestation covering up pastors, doctors, psychologist, psychiatrists, and bishops, however, I do see why some white men should be vilified, but also why some non-white men and some women of various colors, as well, should be vilified. Especially given the reality that today’s psychiatric industry’s number one actual function within humanity, does in fact seem to be covering up child abuse, by turning ACEs survivors into “schizophrenics” with the neuroleptic and other psych drugs. Although, I believe the problems relate more to power differentials and struggles, than to an all white men are evil concept. I believe we need to move to the realization that, “all men and women are created equal,” and get rid of the societal delusion that certain professions deserve more respect than others.

    • Male bashing, I got this,

      Football and Domestic Violence: How to Cope with a Disturbing Correlation

      Of all the entertainment forms, sports seems to hypnotize people like nothing else. People seem to think that their very existences hinge on whether or not a team win a meaningless game. It is truly sad to see grown men almost crying over a lost football game, but it just goes to show how brainwashed and dumbed-down our population has become.

      What about superdelegates, brokered conventions and them rigging the elections ? STFU man I am watching the game, college A is playing college B and player C might go to team E next year if they win this game. Would you like a Bud Light ? It truly tastes like dishwater but the multi billion dollar advertising campaign got me to think its good stuff.

  10. Hi Tina, many thanks for the work you are doing.
    In Western Australia our MHA has a burden of proof (suspect on reasonable grounds that a person requires incarceration and treatment) before they can be forced. I believe that such burdens are seen throughout our laws, before acting against a person on must have at least some rational reason.
    Our Chief Psychiatrist who is charged with protecting consumers, carers and the public however doesn’t like the existence of this protection and has thus changed the wording to read that the profeesional with the power to complete the statutory declaration for detention to “need only ‘suspect’ on grounds they believe to be reasonable”. This of course means that if the professional thinks that tomato is reasonable grounds to force treatment on another, it can not be tested by the courts.
    Combine this with the rampant ‘verballing’ which is being done on the Forms (the bearing of false witness on stat decs) and we still wonder why our hospitals are being used as torture, drop and knock centres for the convenience of anyone with knowledge of this disgraceful systemic abuse.
    What can one do when even the flimsy protections provided by our legislators are simply ignored and misrepresented to suit doctors need to have evidence of criminality ‘treated’? And our legislators even when presented with a set of fraudulent documents designed to conceal criminality fail to report to the appropriate authority, and instead misdirect the matter into the black hole called the Minister of Mental Health?
    Good luck with your work, and once again thank you.
    regards
    Boans

    • In addition our Chief Psychiatrist also provides “expert legal advice” to the Minister. And he doesn’t know what a burden of proof is? In the other direction it does mean that when he has a duty to report to the relevant authorities that he simply doesnt ‘suspect on grounds he believes to be reasonable’ that he has such a duty.
      This is lawlessness and is reflected in what is occuring in our hospitals. Carte blanche with no possiblity of any crimes being reported.

  11. Psychiatry – an absolute evil. Psychiatrists commit crimes so obvious, so unacceptable, amazing how such a society accept?! How the human soul accept this? It can not be. Nobody consciously, voluntarily accept this can not be!
    Mankind is forced to take. Coerces totally! Psychiatrists have incredible power. Above them, only the devil. Above them there is no justice. Therefore is not possible solidarity victims. And even many of the protesters suddenly, quite illogical stop responding and become silent.

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