More on the Power of Diversity: The “Hidden Recovered”

Ron Bassman, PhD
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In sociology, stigma is defined as something that prevents a person from being accepted into normal society.

But if we look at stigma as arising from the fear of things perceived as unfamiliar and judged abnormal, then we must think of challenging stigma by making the characteristics associated with stigma more familiar and thus less fearful. For me, central to stigma is discrimination and exclusion. The antidote: working with someone as a colleague, knowing such a person as a neighbor and friend.

The hard-fought battle for accessibility, fueled by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, has made jobs and community participation possible.  Whereas it is easy to observe the progress that has been made in the realm of physical (observable) disabilities, there has been little progress for those who have been defined as mentally ill; those “crazy people.”

For me, the key to the lack of progress is our failure to use what we know about how to diminish Fear.  Horror movie producers utilize a basic principle to increase fear:  the dreaded monster is not clearly seen until the climax.  If we are given enough time to see the movie monster, familiarity diminishes the required fear of the moviegoer. Throughout history, those of us who have experienced anomalous, extreme mental states, regardless of the causes, have been removed from our communities. That isolation makes re-entry, with the added burden of stigma, a formidable, lifelong task for many of us.

For years I have been disturbed by the various attempts made to extinguish stigma. What I have seen are futile public education campaigns that barely make a dent in the public consciousness. Typically, such campaigns center on education about the nature of mental illness and the current treatments that are in vogue and validated by testimonials. Popular are statements equating mental illness with other forms of manageable illness that can be treated with medications.

Some pundits speak of what a dangerous time we live in.  Random, unpredictable violence is attributed to people with mental illness. The media thrives on sensational stories while citizens desperately look for predictability to soothe their fears. The other, the different, become the target. Control, with its illusion of safety, is believed to be attained by identifying, excluding and isolating those projected to be dangerous.

In his book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, makes a compelling argument that statistics show a decrease in human violence.  Yet his treatise does little to challenge our heightened perception of lurking danger.

Fear remains high.

I offer my thoughts as to what I believe are keys to more effective approaches in overcoming the exclusion and isolation engendered by stigma.

Inclusiveness is the antidote.

A sign of progress is the increasing valuation of people with lived experience; or, perhaps more aptly, experts by experience. I have been fortunate to be both a psychiatric survivor and a psychologist. In my dual role, I have been privileged to be invited to speak to students and faculty at various universities. While responding to questions I frequently say, “I know that among you there are those who have had experiences similar to what I have spoken about. Wouldn’t it be enlightening if students and faculty could freely discuss their experiences with anomalous and/or extreme states of consciousness?”

Theories and treatments could be evaluated and new ideas would be generated when considered through the lens of those with lived experience. I have suggested that I would not need to be invited to speak if openness was supported, so that the resources already there among students and faculty could inform them. My wish is for lived experience to be valued as a credential, and for a special effort be made by universities to support such students who are in various stages of overcoming adversity.

Last week I attended the American Psychological Association Annual Conference. For many years, I have attempted to support and encourage those psychologists with lived experience to consider being open about their background – that is, if they are in a position to do so. I regret to say that we still remain few in number and those that disclose are usually near the end of their careers. A few of us who are open, along with a law professor, have recently co-authored a journal article surveying discrimination in state licensing laws for psychologists. The article, “State Psychology Licensure Questions About Mental Illness and Compliance With the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)” is scheduled for publication in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.

Another of my critiques is directed at the oft-cited “remarkable people who have made major contributions.” Anti-stigma campaigns cite famous figures who have struggled with mental illness. Mentioned frequently: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Virginia Wolf, Beethoven, Sylvia Plath, Issac Newton, Judy Collins and many others.

My objection: Do we have to be famous with extraordinary talent in order to be accepted? Does one become extraordinary simply by virtue of having recovered or transformed their experience? Do those in various stages need to act super normal with no eccentricities in order to be included?

Perhaps we see here why so many remain “the hidden recovered.” Some years ago I developed a three-hour recovery training module for the New York State psychiatric hospitals. Former patients presented to hospital employees about their experiences and the factors that propelled their recovery journeys. The most profound feedback came from ward staff. Many said they were not aware of what these former patients expressed. Most salient of the comments was: We never see the successes, we only see the failures who are readmitted.

I remain hopeful. Progress is slow. The fight for passage of the ADA was a protracted battle where many heroes put themselves on the front lines. I believe our progress is dependent on more of us accepting the risk of being open and joining in the fight for rights and Justice for All.

I borrow a principle which I believe comes from the Western Massachusetts Recovery and Learning Community, that I put in juxtaposition to the popular “recovery is possible.”

Recovery is PROBABLE 

* * * * *

42 COMMENTS

  1. I think once adults can let go of the idea that they need approval from others in order to feel good about themselves, then a lot will heal from the inside out, rippling exponentially. Needing approval or acceptance is crippling, disempowering, and only reflects that which we do not accept about ourselves. I believe that is a leftover from childhood invalidation.

    We can fill in those blanks ourselves, when we learn who we are and take that particular journey of self-discovery, rather than relying on a marginalizing society for mirroring. That’s really setting one’s self up for failure, to my mind. At the very least, it pretty much guaranties a great deal of chronic stress, to always care what others think. That’s how one loses one’s voice and dissociates from one’s truth.

    When we live in our authentic truth, we will attract others who do the same, and this will create more harmonious societies, albeit diverse. No reason to sell ourselves short by trying to please anyone but ourselves. When we practice unconditional self-acceptance, our entire perception and experience of reality shifts, and projected stigma has zero power. It becomes completely irrelevant.

    • And this is exactly the state that those currently in power do NOT want us to accomplish by ANY means! I think this is why the resistance to common-sense ideas like peer support and nutritional changes and improved listening skills is so high. The current paradigm is popular specifically because it keeps power with the powerful and blames the “mentally ill” for their own predicament. Teaching the “mentally ill” to not be worried about others’ opinions and to act in empowered ways TERRIFIES the supporters of the status quo! Hell, the entire CONCEPT of “mental illness” is based on labeling disapproved behaviors/emotions as “different.” Self-approval is the last thing in the world the psychiatric profession wants to promote!

      —- Steve

      • Yep. So I’d call learning radical self-acceptance a viable and powerful healing alternative which empowers one’s self while simultaneously disempowering the oppressively stigmatizing psychiatric perspective. To me, it’s a perfect plan, all based on respecting individual choice and self-agency, while costing absolutely nothing.

      • That’s why I have never conceded to anyone else the power of defining my experience, my truth. People should have an understanding of the power differential they are expected to buy into when they “seek help,” and be very clear within themselves what is helpful and what is decidedly unhelpful for them in their situation. A pregnant woman who wants a natural birth should avoid an obstetrician with a high c-rate, for instance, and consider turning to a midwife.

        Surgeons cut, the lens they see you through casts the shadow of a scalpel. Psychiatrists pathologize and prescribe, and everything you tell them will be viewed through that particular warped/dirty lens. Understand that.

        I, personally, accept that a certain degree of interdependence is simply part of the human equation: there are things that an individual cannot accomplish for themselves, by themselves. Humans need one another, and there is no shame to being in need of help. But it has been my experience too often in seeking emotional help, that simply by virtue of needing help with emotional/interpersonal issues, my ability to define what help is best for me, i.e. my basic right to self-determination, can be called into question. Those in “helping professions” assume an entitlement to be the one who defines what help is needed. It is inherent in the relationship, and is one of the most toxic “flies in the ointment.” You can’t even trust me to know what I need, but you expect me to entrust you with my vulnerable, emotionally injured self? No way.

        I’m reminded of a quote (I might have read it here) that goes something like, “If you are here to help me, I have no use for that. But if you are here because your liberation is bound up with mine, let us work together.” I might have mangled that; if so, feel free to correct me/it.

    • AlexVery true however
      to me I seem isolated from peers because of no formal structure to intiate contacts or facing my own history is still an issue for me that I get scared and lose that possibility
      Having your local police know your history is also extremely problematic
      and there are obstacles to leaving
      Self acceptance and self live that was obtained and then devastating lost through contact with the mj system makes one fearful and unable to trust your judgement and most importantly act
      How to do this and organize at the same time is almost a double bind situation which is what the powers that be have implemented do well
      Divide and conquer people’s soul so that there are literally not able to resist

      • Your comment moves me so much, CatNight, I so get you here. Being on the wrong end of a stigmatizing environment is, indeed, one double-bind after another, and it can feel overwhelming and rather treacherous. That’s a lot of issues piled one on top of the other.

        As you say about trusting your judgment, after feeling that my process had failed me and that, perhaps, I wasn’t as intuitive as I had thought, that was a huge hurdle. I was filled with self-doubt after all of this, and that can be crippling, because we talk ourselves out of moving forward, from fear of falling again.

        I had to get really philosophical at this point, which is where I began to learn other perspectives–different spiritual philosophies–and I began to apply those as they seemed relevant. Took years to learn and integrate all of this, but with each step, I focused on what felt as improvement, where I could have at least a small amount of clarity, an opening of hope, and that would take me to the next step. Eventually, I discovered my power to create change, starting from within.

        So in one sense, I know I had to do this on my own, and seek what I needed for spiritual purposes, and that led to emotional healing because the double binds began to dissipate, coming from a broader perspective.

        But also, with each move forward, I’d attract different things and people in my life that were appropriate for me at that particular juncture. I believe the universe works that way, as per Law of Attraction. When we shift our own energy, we have a different experience of life, and different things manifest around us.

        I’ve gone through several communities as I healed, each one reflecting the stage I was in. So it was a combo of solitude and community, depending on my needs at the time. I didn’t even have to decide, life did that for me, and I went with it, which is how I learned to trust my process again, because it was working, I was healing by leaps and bounds. Both were important, but learning to be comfortable in my solitude was vital for me to feel comfortable socially.

        I learned pure present time consciousness, to stop ruminating about the past and worrying about the future. That was a challenge and I can still struggle with this a bit, but even the intention of practicing this is very relieving, and it allowed me to take one step at a time, without talking myself out of the moment, and I’d simply connect to the experience of personal growth and healing in that moment, which can be sublime.

        That’s what it was like to crawl out of the dark tunnel, and into the light, so to speak. So, so, so much to learn, explore, and discover along the way. It’s an extremely unique process, and it is empowering. At this moment, know your power to take the journey, that is pure courage. Our humanity is Divine in its totality, shadow and light. When we embrace our shadow as our humanness, then we are in good position to celebrate our spiritual freedom. That is hardy integration.

  2. Great point about the possible downside of citing famous individuals purported to have mental illness…while I understand the goal of decreasing stigma, I’ve often wondered if it might not also feed into some people’s delusions of grandeur and/or (hypo)mania?

    • They also neglect to mention that the huge bulk of these famous individuals accomplished all they did with no “treatment” of any sort! Edison clearly met the criteria for “ADHD” and got tossed out of school at a young age, yet ended up being one of our greatest inventors without a milligram of Ritalin ingested. Who’s to say what greatness we may be suppressing in order to “help” our exceptional offspring “fit in” to a warped and unhealthy social system?

      —- Steve

      • Then again some committed suicide. Lincoln said, ” I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.”

        • True enough. However, the choice to end his/her life based on excessive suffering does not lead me to the conclusion that this person or anyone else is victim of a “disease” simply based on the idea that they are suffering. My point is that, as Emerson famously quoted, “To be great is to be misunderstood.” To be misunderstood, is also, to some extent, to suffer, at least for most of us. Much suffering, including suffering to the point of committing suicide, is caused by a sense of alienation from the society in which we currently live. While not all people get to feeling suicidal, plenty experience huge distress because of “not fitting in” to their prescribed social roles. How many depressed moms in the 60s got Valium or Benzedrine instead of someone recognizing that their life as a housewife was isolating and unfulfilling? How many kids get drugged in school because they are unable or unwilling to cope with the stifiling boredom of their classroom? Would Edison have been better off if he’d been drugged into sitting still for his teachers, who clearly couldn’t begin to cope with his energy and creativity? How many domestic abuse victims get Prozac instead of someone asking them what they’re depressed or anxious about? Hell, we’re now supposed to diagnosed a person with Major Depressive Disorder two weeks after the death of a loved one if they’re still having trouble functioning!

          Great people suffer. Normal people suffer. Oppressed people suffer. Suffering is part of the human condition. Cherry picking certain famous people who chose to end their lives as proof that they needed “treatment” is reductionistic nonsense.

          — Steve

          • Excellent points, Steve, very insightful for me. I have suffered much thought my life but I know it’s all relative. I tried to take my life only when I was clinically depressed. My situation in life was actually very good at that point – had my own business, financially set, great wife and kids, nice house on the hill overlooking a forest preserve and I fit in very well. I never remotely considered suicide in the past. So how was this different? My disease, depression, made me feel like I had no idea who I was. I couldn’t deal with the notion I would have to live like that the rest of my life. I didn’t believe I had a choice because my disease convinced me there was no hope. I didn’t mean to cherry pick but wanted to provide an alternative perspective to your well thought out comments. I hope my experience is of value to others and although I can’t speak for Lincoln, I feel like his words are mine.

          • And I appreciate your perspective and your willingness to share and have a civil exchange of views. It’s how we all learn and do a better job. Honestly, I have never had a problem with people doing whatever they need to do to overcome feeling hopeless and depressed about life, because I’ve been there, many times. My objection to the modern medical viewpoint is the idea that depression is always the result of a failing in the individual, rather than failings in their social system or society as a whole. As you can see in my comments above, I believe we’re living in a rather sick society right now, and I kind of see depression as a pretty reasonable response to a rather dismal political and social picture out there. Maybe if I weren’t “depressed,” I wouldn’t feel upset about global warming and the current political contest or the US policy of overthrowing foreign governments we don’t agree with and so on. Maybe I’m supposed to be OK with all that. But I kinda think that’s my decision to make, not some MD psychiatrist who is more interested in making my bad feelings go away than addressing the actual issues that those bad feelings relate to.

            Best of luck to you, and thanks again for the exchange!

            — Steve

          • Steve – The best psychologist I had didn’t blame me or society for my depression. He said it was brain disease the could be helped with medication and talk therapy. I see the modern medical viewpoint changing and with every change comes the good and bad. We need to identify both in order to focus on what works. I see you do that and I’m thankful to you.

    • Citing famous people as examples of ‘overcoming’ also puts undo pressure on people. We do not have to be famous or celebrated by the world in order to have value. That’s a terrible message to send to any person, and sadly, our media does just that, celebrate the rich and famous as though they were examples, and even deities. Yet another dynamic of an oppressively sick society.

      Our value is intrinsic, whoever we are. It’s our responsibility alone to know this for ourselves.

        • “feeling like you have to become famous in order to be an “ok” mentally ill person…”

          Yes, I like this a lot. Striving to be an “acceptable ‘mentally ill’ person by standing out and above through high public achievement is just as dehumanizing as a DSM diagnosis, and playing the social game of “acceptance.” I do not think we find happiness or balance this way, and I agree with you, it can lead to self-delusion simply for survival purposes. We can think well of ourselves and be happy with ourselves without needing to believe that we are the next Pablo Picasso or the new Messiah.

          Although I will say this–I do believe absolutely everyone in the world has the potential for greatness in any regard, it’s really a matter of where we choose to focus, what goals we have, and what path we chose to take at any given time. I think the really sinister and sabotaging impact of blatant systemic stigma is when we internalize the message that we are limited in comparison to others. That’s a complete lie which undermines people until they wake up to their own truth, and not that of others imposed on them.

          • You often say things I feel, but using completely different words and sentiments, and leaves a different flavor in my mouth, so to speak. I like having that experience with/of you, Alex!

          • I have a different perspective on siting famous people in efforts to reduce stigma. I was a very successful person when mental illness stuck and felt a ton of guilt as a result. Knowing other successful people also struggled, that mental illness doesn’t discriminate, helped me to accept my condition. It’s fascinating that I use Ron’s exact two comments from his article in my presentation explaining my lived experience.

          • I get that and totally respect it of course. No doubt that rings true for others. Great example of diversity in how each of us responds to our situations.

            I’ll take back my generalization and apply it to myself. I was also successful in life even after I was diagnosed and relied on psych drugs to “normalize” me, so to speak. It was coming off the drugs and the disability that accompanied this temporarily that jolted me out of mainstream living.

            Then I became a minor celebrity in San Francisco thanks to theater and a film I made about the system. That was fun at first, and definitely healing to feel valued aftervtge long stigmatizing haul through the system. But it wasn’t me, I was stretching, all in the name of healing and discovering who I was in my heart and spirit.

            Now 4 years later, I’m well and at peace, because I am a perfectly ordinary person in a new and peaceful community, and fulfilled as a result, as a country healer and local musician.

            I know a few famous people and I don’t envy them. The pressure they put on themselves is obvious. That’s the kind of stress I learned to avoid in order to stay grounded and at peace with myself.

  3. I found myself reflecting on several things as I read this post, so I’m going to remark on them before I read the comment section, which will certainly inspire other thoughts/reflections.

    About the antidote being inclusion: I’m reminded of 2 elementary schoolteachers in the ’70s who decided to do a bit of social engineering for the common good. I don’t remember their names, but will never forget the lessons. One taught her class (2nd graders, maybe 3rd?) about discrimination by segregating the class according to eye color Brown eyes vs. Blue/Green/Hazel. The first day, one group was made to wear a felt collar indicator (more visible) and told that people with that color eyes were inferior (less smart, less moral, less worthy, etc.) and they would not be permitted the privileges that the other eye group received. The teacher reinforced these notions throughout the day, and the othered eye group was miserable. The next day, they changed places. So every single child had their turn at experiencing what it was like to be subjected to institutional and personal discrimination. The next day was spent with the whole class discussing how silly and arbitrary it was to attribute characteristics to a group of people based on their eye color, and the feelings it engendered for the children as they were subjected to it, and how it felt to reinforce superiority when they were the ones “on top.” All the children decided it was just as wrong to judge people based on skin color, and they delighted in throwing the felt collars into the trash bin. The other incident wasn’t laid out like an experiment, but was an edict instead: you can’t say “You can’t play.” Nobody is allowed to exclude anyone else.

    About Fear: it is the currency of authoritarians. I’m reminded of a documentary I recently saw called The Brainwashing of My Dad, about Fox News’ use of fear and flashing visuals.

    About being an “expert by experience,” we are in excellent company. I was reminded of Jane Goodall, and of Temple Grandin. I echo your wish “for lived experience to be valued as a credential.” I know many here at MiA feel a yearning for that validation as well, by sentiments expressed in the comments.

    About the “hidden recovered” and the need to be Exceptionally Okay and Thriving: I know I experience a sense of having to always put my best foot forward. I cannot trust others to adjust their assessment of my capability as my resources and challenges wax and wane. I do not want to be dismissed, discounted, diminished by the limitations of someone else’s ability to see beyond their own issues. I’m talking about the kind of people who take issue with Sera Davidow’s barefooted-ness, that type. I truly think they are jealous of the freedom we express when we dare to be our true selves; when who we are will not fit the box those folks have defined as “societal norms,” and we dare to be okay with that. We are brazen enough to challenge the notion that we are what is unacceptable in the scenario; we see that it is the box that has limitations, not us. How dare we be free when they keep re-inventing one-size-fits-all! I, personally, have always felt pride in the ability to challenge the norms. Powers-that-be can get very threatened by that, depending in part on their personal sense of insecurity, which underlies their desperate need to be recognized as an authority. There simply is no more legitimate an authority than one’s own personal experience. Ask Jane; ask Temple.

    About coming out of the closet: I’ve done that, a lot. I’m Bisexual; I’m Polyamorous; I’m Pagan. And just to look at me, I pass as just another default. I’ve learned that unless I declare otherwise, people assume about me what most people assume about most people. Until they see me with my wife; then they assume I’m Lesbian instead of assuming I’m straight. I am one of those people, though, who’s magnetic– in the sense that people tend to be pretty immediately either attracted/repelled by me. Or, another apt description: I’m like cilantro; people either love me or hate me. I get that, and it weeds out some folks right away (good riddance to ya!) but from there it is a choice of how much real me I reveal. I learned in college that it can be fun to wait awhile before challenging their assumptions. If someone has assumed about my spirituality, for instance, it might not come up for awhile, long enough for a comfortable rapport/friendship to have developed between us. So then when they ask what I’m doing for Halloween and I answer that I’m a Witch and I will be hosting the Circle for my coven and all our ancestors, that’s a conversation where they get the chance to be curious & ask questions, and I get the chance to disabuse them of erroneous notions about what Witches are and what we do.

    About the APA: Was it the late ’60s? early ’70s maybe? where the gay psychiatrist came to the convention wearing a paper bag over his face because he needed to keep his anonymity while challenging the designation of homosexuality as a mental disorder? I’m reminded of that. We need a whole panel of APA members with bags on their heads so they are free to reveal their madness journeys to the entire body of members at the convention. And NASW members at their convention too, for that matter. In the meantime, please post a link to your study/article when it is published because I’d love to read it.

    So those are my ponderings for now.

    • Magnificent comment, LavenderSage, I think you really captured the spirit of the issue of duality (which to me, is an issue of pure snobbery) and the effects of stigma (considered inferior) affects one internally. It’s no picnic, and it leads to all sorts of problems for people.

      “I truly think they are jealous of the freedom we express when we dare to be our true selves; when who we are will not fit the box those folks have defined as “societal norms,” and we dare to be okay with that. We are brazen enough to challenge the notion that we are what is unacceptable in the scenario; we see that it is the box that has limitations, not us. How dare we be free when they keep re-inventing one-size-fits-all! I, personally, have always felt pride in the ability to challenge the norms. Powers-that-be can get very threatened by that, depending in part on their personal sense of insecurity, which underlies their desperate need to be recognized as an authority. There simply is no more legitimate an authority than one’s own personal experience.”

      Right on! I think this is about as core truth of the matter as one can get. This is the code to crack and the illusion to see past—there is no box to fit in, we are free. One’s personal experience of their own life far surpasses any outside “authority” of the matter.

      Jealousy can be an extremely destructive and sabotaging energy, and yes, it is rampant. Perhaps these clinicians should take our example rather than be jealous, they’ll feel much better.

      I think it was at an APA meeting in the late 1950’s where the psychiatrist showed up with a paper bag on his head to criticize the DSM category of “homosexuality.” I wasn’t aware he was gay, I actually thought it was a straight shrink who was dissident, and with fear, obviously. I could be wrong, may not be remembering correctly, but I know the incident to which you refer. It’s in the wonderful documentary, Changing Our Minds, The Story of Dr. Evelyn Hooker. Are you familiar with that one?

      Hooker championed the cause of removing this from the DSM, based on her many close friendships in the LGBT community (called Homosexual community at that time). She knew from her personal experiences that this was pure rubbish, and she proved it to the point which led to its removal from the DSM. That’s actually one case where someone not specifically identified with that community spearheaded it to break ground, which I think is interesting. She seems like a seriously amazing person. Anyway, it’s an excellent and very moving film, if you ever get a chance to see it.

      http://cart.frameline.org/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=T392

      Here’s a brief clip I found on YouTube. *Warning* first image is graphic.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWOfyD5qvSQ

  4. You talk about fears of violence and the need for inclusiveness. You are still supporting the concept of Mental Illness.

    Of course if you deny someone any shred of human dignity and desexualize them, they may well become violent. No different from if you keep jabbing at an animal with a stick.

    Capitalism used to get its scapegoats from slave labor and cheap labor. Now in the information age there is much less need for labor. But there is an even greater need for scapegoats to subject to ritual humiliations in order to maintain discipline. So the middle-class family is tasked with producing these scapegoats. We have now this untouchable caste which is always in Recovery and Therapy, and usually on alcohol, street drugs, and psychiatric medications.

    The more Social Darwinists and Eugencists can show that this untouchable caste does not fight back, but instead seeks approval and pity, the more it feels vindicated.

    We must oppose all forms of Psychotherapy and Recovery, as well as Psychiatry and Drugging, while we make sure that doctors and parents are prosecuted, and that the victims are compensated.

    We must never go along with the pity seeking implicit in Therapy and Recovery.

    Therapy and Recovery = Uncle Tom
    http://freedomtoexpress.freeforums.org/uncle-tom-and-christian-meekness-t313.html

    Nomadic

  5. Mental health professionals (along with police and CPS) use the corrupt practice of ‘verballing’ to deliberately CREATE fear in their colleagues. It is not unknown for the to ‘fluff’ the facts a little in order to make their vile actions justified in the eyes of others.

    A biref example from my personal experience. Known facts, drugged with benzos without knowledge, no psychiatric medications, does not drink alcohol, no illicit drugs (smoked pot on occasions). Documented facts passed on to next persons in the line? “refused to answer re substance abuse”. It deliberately creates suspicion in the next person who feels there is a need to ‘extract’ this information from the victim.

    And let me say that when this is done by police with for example a knife, and the victim doesn’t know they have done this (no access to documents) it sows a seed which has a major effect on any future interactions with other officers. You begin to wonder why when stopped by police you are face down on the street with a gun at the back of your head, unaware of the false flag which is contained in the system records. Think it might be being done on racial lines myself but ….. without the evidence lmao.

    • In other words, they document their own paranoid delusions rather than facts as justification for their actions.

      “potential for violence, but no actual history”. This about a person sitting in a chair? And it is justification for surrounding them and injecting them with a cocktail of drugs?

      Well aware of the stigma, they do everything they can to smear the person before anyone else gets to look at their ‘quality’ 3 minute ‘assessments’.

      • Something became obvious to me though the other night when I was going through police training manuals. How to break bones and influence people, Creative writing; the Perjurers Way, and they even have a library for books to read to kiddies, like Tom Thumbscrews and …….

        Do something about the rampant corruption and things may begin to change.

  6. Ron,

    This is an important issue in general, and it particularly touches me personally.

    I experienced psychosis/voice-hearing and “borderline” states of mind for many years, and now function much better without nearly as many problems as in the past.

    But, I don’t tell anyone at my job as a teacher/coach that I once had these problems. In fact, I am scared to do so, because I have the paranoid fear – or maybe not so paranoid – that if I share that I once heard a voice, once was in terror all the time, once couldn’t function at all for long periods, once experienced severe mood swings frequently, once had diagnoses of all sorts of things including borderline and schizophrenic – that if I share these things, then I may lose my job and/or people may think I am some unstable person who should not work with children. That people will think I am/was an “other.”

    The risk reward for me seems simple: keep quiet, keep my job. Speak out, gain very little except some personal satisfaction, but risk losing my job.

    Maybe I should do it. What do others think?

    • Tough situation without any good answers. Stigma is a strong force that continues to cause people to lose their jobs. If your job environment was accepting, I guarantee you would find others that also have struggled with mental illness, maybe even those in leadership positions. Then again, no one is entitled to your medical history except you and that should not be a factor considered when evaluating your current job performance. So be careful but be open to the possibilities. Hope this helps.

      • “no one is entitled to your medical history except you”

        I was threatened with arrest by a Senior Constable for having documents from my medical records. No idea what the charge was actually going to be, maybe walking into a police station with proof of crimes but…..

        I have been struggling to understand why an FOI officer would offer me access to my medical records only on the condition that I sign them over to another person, when that other person was responsible for drugging me without my knowledge and dropping a knife in my pocket to obtain a police referral. Do they not hand over your medical records if criminals don’t want them to?

        Any assistance here would be appreciated.

        • Wouldn’t do it here in Australia if the consequences were 5 years in Guantanamo Bay BPD. Might be different in the US, but once marked as a ‘patient’ here, it opens up human rights abuses like you wouldn’t believe, particularly on the part of police.

          FOI officer was attempting to give the appearance that I was a patient, and then it is okay according to our Minister for Mental Health, Chief Psychiatrist and Clinical Director of the hospital to drug patients without their knowledge, and drop knives in their pockets to get police referrals if the ‘patient’ will not attend a doctor. Not that it’s okay, but rather than have the community know that these human rights abuses are being enabled by the State, they have police retrieve the documents demonstrating the crimes, and then through acts of negligence fail to perform their duty.

          Any complaints to police who seem to enjoy gaslighting patients, you are referred back to the human rights abusers for ‘treatment’. Now I get it that they are enabling the drugging of patients without their knowledge (though we complain about it being done in Ghana) in the interests of compassion. And that rather than face up to the human rights abuses we simply retrieve and conceal the evidence from any patient advocates with fraudulent documents.

          Bad enough that ‘patients’ are being subjected to these human and civil rights abuses with full knowledge of the Minister on down, but what if the person wasn’t even a ‘patient’? That’s got to get ugly. No wonder I have police threatening to shoot me and dump me in the bush lol.

          • Dieu et mon Droit is the very foundation of our legal system. If you can give the person the legal status of patient post hoc, then their Rights can be removed and what were criminal offenses no longer need to be examined. And given that these people obviously do not believe in God as they are prepared to bear false witness against others?

            Consent simply a matter of injecting people with chemical cocktails and writing it down as PRN?

            Lawlessness.

          • So yeah, I kind of see the Ministers point. There are those times when you have arranged a dinner party and that inconvenient patient is hanging around the house (well there not actually a patient but for $200 a psychologist will say they are). Drug em, drop em, drop a knife in their pocket, and drop a dime on the police, the State will sort the rest.

            Now, have I got enough of those green napkins?

  7. As one of the so called “hidden recovered,” who does sometimes mislead people as to why I became a ‘mental health’ researcher, who is absolutely disgusted by the massive drugging of children with the toxic psychiatric drugs in our society today. But is also one who is not silent regarding my research findings, such as quoting Whitaker’s findings that both the antidepressants and ADHD drugs have resulted in a staggering number of ‘bipolar’ misdiagnoses.

    And my findings that the current ‘bipolar’ drug cocktails, like combining the antidepressants with the antipsychotics, are already medically known to create the positive symptoms of ‘schizophrenia,’ via the central symptoms of anticholinergic intoxication syndrome (aka anticholinergic toxidrome), which is almost always misdiagnosed, since such an iatrogenic, psychotomimetic illness is not a billable DSM disorder. And I’ve also found the antipsychotics alone can also create the negative symptoms of ‘schizophrenia,’ via neuroleptic induced deficit disorder, which is also almost always misdiagnosed and mistreated for the same reason.

    Absolutely, “Recovery is probable,” if one is weaned from the toxic and mind altering psychiatric drugs. And defaming people with theoretical, but scientifically invalid and unreliable “lifelong, incurable, genetic mental illnesses” is as unacceptable human behavior today, as it was in Nazi Germany.

    And the medical evidence is coming in showing that today’s psychiatric industry is basically profiteering off of covering up child abuse for our sickeningly paternalistic society, and easily recognized iatrogenesis for the incompetent doctors. And these psychiatric historic, and continuing, crimes against humanity were confessed to me, by an ethical pastor, as “the dirty little secret of the two original educated professions.”

    We all live in the Information Age now, so it’s time to rid humanity of this “dirty little secret” of the historically paternalistic medical and religious fields. It’s time to get rid of the replacement for the ‘witch hunters,’ the psychiatrists, who silently cover up the sins of the two original educated professions. I agree, it’s time for justice for all.

    But how embarrassing for me, I did not know the medical and religious industries of the US today did not actually believe in the Declaration of Independence, and that all people are created as equals. Or, how embarrassing for them to believe utilizing their education to profit from harming innocents for their own profit and sick motives, while also hypocritically claiming they were promising to ‘first and foremost, due no harm,’ was a good idea. I do still believe God is the one in charge of the final judgement, and those with delusions of grandeur they are in charge, will meet their Maker.

  8. Since the dawn of modern psychiatric time (circa 1850) people have been recovering from so-called serious psychiatric illness — and also not much recovering, just thinking that they have and having enough people willing to indulge the idea.

    In a nutshell, about 30% recover and never so much as an unintended burp of it happening again.

    The most fawned-upon text about schizophrenia and recovery is from the 19th C. and is called MEMOIRS OF MY NERVOUS ILLNESS by DANIEL PAUL SCHREBER. Excuse the CAPS that was a cut and paste job.

    The essential point you are making here in your mind is that recovery and non-recovery narratives have been the mainstay of modern psychiatry since, well, permit me yet another moment of absolute egoic splendour, but these narratives have run along the whole journey of modern psychiatry.

    Just a halfhour sniffing archive.org will turn up some absolute gems.

    I can only confess to read a couple of dozen but I think most people,including progressive recovery people, would be quite shocked at the similitudinous narratives.

    But yes… the question of reveal or not reveal. For someone of a literary bent it is also a question of embellish.

    Thanks to Ron Bassman all the same. Shake hands.

  9. Nice. Nice and dangerous…

    The title announces diversity, but the article only contains the reflections of a friendly educated white privileged man. So much about the diversity issues ‘forgotten’. To me this kind of contributions is dangerous as it makes invisible the millions of people, even in US, for whom the ‘probability of a basically safe and good life’ is pretty mince.

    Working poor, living in extreme precarity, racist policing, cities that make it illegal to give food to homeless people… (no Jesus won’t knock on US house’s doors, but god is shareholder value, and godot is gone).

    For how many millions and millions the silent call to become a nice friendly privileged middle class person (in recovery? or what is this really about?) is impossible. Really, and intellectually, impossible for what millions of marginalised (and many of them mad) know differently.

    May be some distressed and marginalised people do (madly and clearly) articulate the trans-structural powers of dehumanisation and disappropriation and violence that constitute the other side of ‘normal’. The normal nice lazy and deceitful jargon of the colour-less, class-less, ‘normally’ well-off authors like Bassman.

    Do you see the walking dead on the other side of the coin of profit? or are they just normal injustices (and normal violences and oppressions) that do not hurt the white privileged bodies and balanced minds on clean cotton cushions in nice apartments or houses?

    Nice by way of exclusion, silencing and deceit?! The niceness of articles like this – of universal (haha) humanist (haha) clinical (haha) professions – should no longer look so nice?

    But I am afraid, I have to disappoint you, and say that I am not nice, rather I am mad and can’t forget. Not even want to forget the patterns of trans-generational violence, the aggressive baggage of fears, deceits, white man’s ‘morality’ turned into oppression/ repression and ruling lies which once blew up my mental/emotional/existencial reality: inviting madness. And I was from a pseudo-privileged family, where violence and injustice of WW2, where violence and injustice (legal) against women were normally silenced; leaving the aggressions the lies and the ghosts. Do you want to recover from the ghosts of history in the present – nonsense, the illusion of presence? That doesn’t even make sense.

    Now I am a once privileged, always white (the skin), (may be) woman writing. Am NOT one of the MILLIONS and millions and MILLIONS of (working, indepted) poor, homeless, imprisoned (most for poverty and racism related situations) people in the US.

    (Please let’s not even imagine that the friendly and nice lifestyle of the privileged in western ultra-modern countries is grounded in extreme exploitation and disappropriation of many people’s in the world, and theft and destruction of their habitat and complex cultures. Ms U, this is not within the philosophical frame of this post! Ms U (the ex-witch) disturbs the reader’s mind, don’t you change the focus and situatedness: the global South, really, who cares, we know that, extraction, theft, wars, terrorism, who we?)

    The focus was: please just recover, recovery is probable, last argument of the Bassman MiA blog. – Or what is this really about?

    Persuade ‘the reader’ that it’s probable and even aimed for to be/come a privileged but humble white person in recovery? They always pretend they are humble, not even acknowledge the daily luxuries they take take take… away. Well, there is something terribly wrong with the pseudo-consensus ‘recovery’ calling of the article. That does not even look at diversity.

    The millions of ignored and silenced people’s issues related to ‘diversity and injustice’ – can you turn on some good music please – stop the blurring of the white-line of privileged ‘recovery’, smiling in the conscience of a safe and well-off niceness.

    My anger and intellectual disappointment are not about the individual Bassman – it is about his narrative being that of privilege and pretense of normality, being the narrative of near all of western/ US psychology, being granted the nomal blindness in the daily light of their privilege. In contrast, ‘relative’ poverty within capitalism is a great teacher of pervasive dehumanisation, until one gets: it is not de-humanisation but de-privilegisation. Who lives in worse poverty may not be able to believe in the typical white privilege mask of ‘normality’ and ‘recovery’. Its UGLY ignorance of the injustices and thefts and real dehumanisations that the privileged ‘lifestyle’ is grounded in for their daily take take take it away, and niceness.

    Modern Psychiatry and Psychology have been and are part of the business of calling illness or deviance the mad and miserable consequences of historical and cultural patterns and powers of/in injustices and violences. But have always been and are much easier to ignore for white middle class folks: they own the humanist and friendly privilege to ignore the misery that feeds their lifestyles. This is why such writing as from Bassman and near all of white friendly privileged psych folks is dangerous – in not being dangerous. Why don’t they go mad, why are they not haunted by ghosts, why don’t they hear the wailing and barking of the erynnies? Why do so many applaud their nice and constant ignorance and silencing of the improbability of a ‘good life’ for millions and millions, not just in the US.

    Diversity should not be in the title – the pretense is sickening, the ignorance as suffocating as it’s dangerous. Makes me angry. And I know why. There is reasons I live and write with ghosts.

    Where are the voices of the ‘hidden unrecovered’? Not so nice?