INTAR India 2016: Community Development and Human Liberation

Will Hall
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Editor’s Note: This is a transcript of Will’s talk from the INTAR 2016 conference panel “Mental Health, Community Development, and Human Liberation” with Gayathri Ramprasad, Jayasree Kalathil, and Dominic Makuvachuma-Walker.

Mental Health, Community Development, and Human Liberation

I want to thank the INTAR India group and especially Bhargavi for all their work bringing me here, it is really an honor to be invited. Throughout my life I have, like many of us, felt deeply enriched by the cultural and religious traditions of India and originating in India, and so it was with enormous gratitude that I heard I was invited to come here to join you in this gathering. I feel that above all I am a learner in your country, a student of the knowledge arising from India and its traditions. I am just at the beginning of this learning and I very much appreciate the opportunity to be with you here, it is of huge significance and personal meaning to me.

India, like all things in this life, appears to us in its dual aspects; both a rich source from within its own indigenous history and also a result of the imposition of forces from without. Both within India and from outside there is a learning for us around mental health, both as an ancient country at the source of so much human civilization, and also as a modern country only relatively recently colonized by empire and shaped from the imposition of an external cultural and political frame. Like all of us and all things it emerges from this encounter between the inner and outer, for India the inner nature of a country and the outer history and present of political colonialism.

When we speak of mental health, and specifically mental health crisis, we also cannot avoid this dual aspect. We have a human experience: hearing voices, falling into withdrawn states of pain and isolation, seeing inspiring messianic visions, torn by urges to end our own lives, mapping signs and symbols of vast menacing coordinations around us, or whatever strange mysteries we might call madness or have labeled as psychosis. And then from these inner experiences we encounter an external relationship, we respond with a label for understanding, we are motivated to speak or to withhold our speech, we pray or we pick up a pen to write a poem, we seize up and become like stone or we collapse and weep like a river, we shut out or we burst forth, we explore and talk back or we turn away in fear.

In mental health, in the human psyche, nothing reaches us as a thing in itself. There is no depression, there is no sadness, there is no mania, there are no voices, there is no suicidality. There is only something created by the relationship with these, relationships both within us, between us and others, between the inside of us and the cultural milieu outside in which we find ourselves. There is sadness and our relationship to it, which makes sadness something not just what it is without that relationship. There is depression and our relationship to it, which makes depression something not just what is without that relationship. And so with voices and visions and the rest of what we see as madness.

In mental health, like all human experience, we do not stand before glass and look at an object in the field of view before us. In mental health, like all human experience, we find ourselves already in a relationship, already in a dance and a current, an encounter between dual forces that propel and shape and above all move, impact and interact, engage and disengage. Our relationship to the thing creates the thing that we then relate to and create anew. It is relationship, not a thing, we see outside, and because we are in relationship we always see a reflection of ourselves.

In the 1980s homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. Psychiatrists at the time were convinced that to experience sexual and romantic attachment to another of the same gender was a mental illness. In examining the “thing” of homosexuality, it was clear: homosexuality was distress, homosexuality was anxiety, depression, addiction, depression, suicidality, fear, and conflict. That homosexuality was a disease, it appeared, was beyond a doubt, because the thing of homosexuality that was observed carried with it so much of these mental health problems. It was verifiable statistically, clinically, and phenomenologically: to be homosexual was to suffer and to be maladapted. And so it was considered only obvious that homosexuality was abnormal and a mental disease.

But in the diagnosis from behind the glass, in looking at the object of homosexuality in the field of view, the dual aspect of the thing observed was ignored. The reflection of the doctors was there in what they saw, but they didn’t look within when they looked without. Like all human experience and like all of what is called mental health, there was a relationship and there was an engagement. A flow and a dance, not an object.

And so by observing that homosexuality was a thing of suffering associated with mental distress, it was not seen that homosexuality was and is also a relationship, and that only relationship reveals human experience. It was not seen that loving someone of the same gender was met with a relationship to the homophobia and violent repression of an oppressive society. The relationship between the inner experience of homosexuality and the outer relationship to homophobia — both in society and within individuals internalizing society as a relation to themselves inside themselves — was what created the human experience of loving someone of the same gender. And it was this relationship, shaped so centrally by homophobia, that was responsible for the higher rates of anxiety, depression, suicide, addiction, and all the mental distress observable associated with it.

It was the relationship to homophobia, not homosexuality in itself, that was the problem. The relationship, not just an object. What doctors saw in the thing was the society’s relation of homophobia, and a reflection of their own homophobia and their own fear. And this was not seen.

Then, of course, the relationships changed. The glass was broken. Police raided the Stonewall Bar in Greenwich Village New York like they had done so many times before, attacking and arresting and harassing, but this time the drag queens and trans people and gay men and lesbians threw rocks and set fire to police cars. They plunged the night into a protest we now remember as the Stonewall Rebellion. That rebellion ignited the modern gay rights movement, as hundreds of gay liberation groups were formed across the US and the world and took to the streets in organizing in the wake of that uprising in New York.

It was after Stonewall, not after Kinsey or psychological or sociological research, that the American Psychiatric Association was forced to change its relationship and no longer view homosexuality outside of the context of homophobia. Being gay was taken out of the DSM, allowing in some ways for the real work to begin of helping people survive in a homophobic world as someone who is different. Different human experience — minority experience to be sure but different, not illness or a disease — could become more recognized as a normal expression of human variation and diversity. 

It is not an exaggeration to trace the Stonewall Rebellion to the anti-colonial movement in India. Human challenges to institutional power move across time and space. India produced Gandhi; Gandhi deeply inspired Dr. King, Dr. King inspired the civil rights movement that in turn nourished the anti-war, Black Power, disability, and women’s movements. Those movements were on the minds and in the hearts of the angry queers who rose up that night at the Stonewall Bar. And those movements inspired and nourished the patients rights and critical psychiatry initiatives across time and space that have brought us here to INTAR in India today.

With the change in relationships the thing being observed changed. We have a new understanding and conversation today around what it means to have sexual and romantic attachment to people of the same gender. Crucially, the scientific and medical discourses surrounding that experience have changed their relationship and so it is now different to be gay — the inner experience encounters an outer relationship that has shifted, reflecting new power relationships redefined by the Stonewall Rebellion and the liberation movement it helped usher in. Change continues and fear remains, but there is something new in the relationship now. The thing is not the same.

And so now we are struggling for a new relationship with other criteria held in the American Psychiatric Association’s compendium of scorn. Our critical stance today can trace its roots to the patient’s movement in the 1970s and 1980s, back through the consciousness raising groups of the women’s movement, to the Black Pride that came from the civil rights movement, back to nonviolence and anti colonial struggles. What we are addressing, and what we are here today to consider and to challenge, is the domination relationships of colonial power that take place not just between empire and nation but between black and white, men and women, gay and straight, able bodied and disabled, and normal and labeled as mentally ill. We are here to challenge how this thing called madness and mental health is in fact a reflection and a relationship, to redefine how society responds, and to insist that in the definition of madness we also see a reflection of the society looking at it.

I was a patient at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute of the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. Incidentally the same psychiatric hospital where Gregory Bateson did his pioneering work on the relationships of context and communication surrounding people diagnosed with schizophrenia. The violence done to me at Langley Porter took the form of restraints, being locked in a solitary confinement cell, threatened with being strip searched, having risky and toxic drugs administered to me without informed consent, and a constant environment of paternalism at best and degrading dehumanization at worst from which I could not escape.

I was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia, alongside a list of all the things observed about me that met that clinical criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. I spent days and weeks almost immobile, speaking very few words and moving as slow as if I wore clothing weighted with lead. I heard voices echoing again and again my own voice and the voice of the person asking me, clouding my thinking and disorienting my responses. I believed I was poisoned, I believed my body was rotting, I believed I had committed some terrible act that deserved a punishment of death, I spoke in elliptical roundabout twists and turns that left others puzzled, thoughts intruded from others and there were screaming voices. I wanted to die.

What I was not given was the honest consideration of my experience within the dual aspect of the thing and the relationship to it. When my diagnosis was ceremonially pronounced, what was not understood was that these inner experiences were my own, that they arose from my life and I lived with them as part of my life as a meaning-making conscious being. That I and those around me would have relationships to these experiences was not considered or addressed in any way. My illness symptoms were attributes revealed, not relationships engaged. I was a thing to be defined. There was no recognition of the experiences I was undergoing as arising through my relationship to them, through the relationship of my life to them, or from the relationship of the people around me — including those with the clinical gaze — to what they were observing. Instead these observers presumed to be behind a glass in their field of view, not in an engaged relationship of becoming, dance, and movement and duality at the very ontological essence of what it was they claimed to see.

Every clinical symptom called psychosis can be induced in any human being in a laboratory context by controlling the person’s environment. Any human being. The presence of these stressors accounts for the psychosis, as a response to a relationship — without any disease process whatsoever within the individual or anywhere. By establishing certain kinds of stimuli — sleep deprivation for example, sensory deprivation or overload, neglect or isolation, confounding moral dilemmas or double binding communication contexts — all of the criteria for psychosis can be induced in any person who undergoes the stimulus. With enough of the right kind of stress, for long enough time, anyone, any human being, will become psychotic.

This clinical and readily observable laboratory fact leaves us with several undeniable conclusions, conclusions that would be readily admitted scientifically if they were not denied politically. First of all, we see that the experiences of psychosis are, like homosexuality, just expressions of human variation and diversity. Psychosis is no more disease than homosexuality is. Psychosis is and always has been a human capacity shared as a species — psychosis is something that we do under the right circumstances and that some of us seem to always do. That we cannot define precisely in a natural context what those circumstances are, that we cannot predict those circumstances, doesn’t take away from the fact that it is circumstances, it is relationships, that account for psychosis. In all instances. This is derived from the immediately observable fact that all forms of psychosis can be induced in any person in an experimental context by controlling stress circumstances they are subjected to.

Secondly, we see that since psychosis is a human variation and capacity, we can more readily understand why psychosis and schizophrenia appear to be found trans-culturally and trans-historically. All society and culture express experiences that would meet contemporary criteria for psychosis. Because all human societies are by definition human, we would therefore only expect a human trait of diversity psychosis to be found in all human societies, just as we do homosexuality. And we do.

We can also assume, and this is crucial, that the capacity for psychosis must confer some evolutionary advantage and fitness for the species as a whole. Without this advantage and fitness it would defy what we know about the nature and meaning of all aspects of humans as a species in the context of evolutionary biology. It simply does not add up to what we know about evolution to simply consider psychosis as a failure, limit, obstacle, or breakdown of the organism. If it were, it would have disappeared from the evolution of the human mind as a species, rather than what we see — that psychosis consistently appears as a feature of human capacity in all cultures at all times.

Third, we then have to ask what it is that denies the proper understanding of psychosis as a trait of human diversity, and the suffering associated with it a relationship to context and engagement with inner and outer forces? And this is the question all liberation movements confront. It is not enough to ask what political and financial interests are served, though it is clear that plunder drives empire, slavery drives racism, and unpaid work and servile status drive sexism. There are also colonialisms that stretch inside us, there are also oppressions that arise from our fears of the Other in society and the fears of traces of the Other within ourselves.

The Gay liberation movement pushed aside psychiatry’s questions of why are gay people sick and raised the question: “Why are we afraid of homosexuality?” The survivor and critical psychology currents are now pushing aside the question how do we treat the diseased brains of mad people and instead raise the question: “Why are we afraid of human difference?” These movements stretch our politics both to the outer world of social domination and inequality and to the inner worlds of fearing the Other in ourselves and between us. To grasp our misunderstanding of the human diversity of psychosis we have to understand the full range of colonialism as both economics and as psychology.

My own liberation has not been a recovery of normalcy. I still hear voices, I still fall mute, I still become frozen, I still see signs and symbols and vast coordinated intelligences, I still meet demons and I still wrestle with the urge to die. I have found my way, however, to a new relationship, a relationship you might call a post-colonial relation to my surround and to what is inside me. Instead of dependency on a master story about who I am, I have a counter story created by a survivor movement. I have an intimate social grouping of close and like-minded, similarly post-colonial friends and no-longer-labeled friends. I have a new language of spirit, nature, and ancestors. I live within a field of meaning and synchronicity, not a mechanistic collision or cause and effect. I discovered that relationships of isolation and powerless were what I needed to change — not any symptoms of what got labeled as psychosis itself.

Change within me came when change came to the communities I live in. From first exploring myself as a trauma survivor against the psychiatric discourse, today I see myself as in a cultural conflict, with my indigenous ancestry nurtured by counterculture and informing a clash with assumptions and preconceptions derived culturally, not objectively, from the scientific and technological society that labeled me as disordered. My reality, different and minority perhaps, is no longer under colonial rule, but the legacy of colonialism remains, both within me and without.

Humans are always found in communities, and it is to communities that this conference is dedicated and to which we turn our focus. Mental health, as my friends and colleagues here will be exploring these several days, is about the relationship of how we view what is called madness. Do we treat diseases and disorders in individual brains and psyches? Or do we locate those who suffer and those who we don’t understand, and locate ourselves, within communities? Psychiatry has offered treatments. We promote community development. We ask new questions that bring a new relationship to the fore. We break the glass that separated the observer from the thing of madness and we look instead to engage, relate, and connect. We step outside the colonial frame and look to traditional and indigenous wisdom that has already answered so many questions of how to best respond to madness.

We build up the communities that already exist, the resources and capacities to respond already happening, rather than impose more colonial mechanisms of consumerism and expertise. We look without and also within ourselves, to the forces of Othering and fear within us, to understand how to strengthen and nourish the communities in which we live. We do this without denying physical problems or illness, which can so often mimic mental illness, and we do this without romanticism or denying suffering. We are carried forward by the work of the liberation movements that come before us, that stretch from the Gay rights movement to the women’s movement and the Black Power and Civil Rights movements, and then back again to the anti-colonial movement of Gandhi and India. 

It is my great honor to be here as part of these questions and initiatives and discussions. I am enormously grateful to have the opportunity to learn with you, and I thank the movements and the colleagues that carry me with them. I am inspired to be here with you, as we explore what it means to be human, inside ourselves and in our relationships with each other and the world, and as we all seek to find a way to liberation, together.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. I always think of 1973 as the landmark year where “homosexuality” was removed from the list of “mental illnesses.” While Stonewall was definitely influential, as it had occurred a mere 4 years prior to this, I always attribute liberation from this category to the brilliant and groundbreaking work of Dr. Evelyn Hooker.

    http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/hooker.html

    **Great composite of her work and the effects thereof–
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZV1GPGlfGo

    There is a wonderful documentary about Dr. Hooker and her pioneering work in this area, called Changing Our Minds: The Story of Dr. Evelyn Hooker. I love the title, I think it speaks volumes.

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

    **Here’s a brief clip of the film–
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWOfyD5qvSQ

    I consider her a hero.

    **WARNING: both film clips contain a few graphic images.

      • It’s why I talk her up whenever the opportunity arises. She was humanistic AND scientific about it. She was a straight woman, but her social community was mostly gay men and women. From these interactions, she basically said to the psychological community, “Being gay is an illness? What the hell are you talking about??”

        And then she proceeded to prove, with her research, that as far as health and well-being are concerned, gay or straight is an indicator of absolutely nothing in this regard, that it was purely made up, fabricated from fear–as is the case with all bigotry. It is the fear which needs to heal–not gay people–for social evolution to occur justly and soundly, the way we desire it to.

        I think that maybe the reason she is not more well-known is that my impression is that she was extremely heartfelt in her work, and it sprang from her sense of truth, not desiring to be a celebrity or anything like that, not a media whore. She was dedicated to her work with humanity, from the heart. I believe her heroism springs from the fact that it is probably the last thing she had in mind, to be a hero. She was authentic and sincere, completely in her integrity. To me, that’s a role model.

  2. Will,

    This is a great article, thank you!

    As someone who went through a similarly depersonalizing experience of hospitalization / prisonization, and being labeled with a severe psychiatric illnesses, I related very much to everything you said.

    I have a term (I don’t know if someone else used it first) that I use for the attitude of the people who don’t approach your experience in a dual, meaning-making way – I call it “pre-relational” or “pre-relativistic”. This is how I talk to people now about the way in which most psychiatrists view the experience of people labeled as having so-called “schizophrenia”. The key question, as David Garfield said to me once, is whether they see a person or an illness.

    I did want to critique one part:

    “We can also assume, and this is crucial, that the capacity for psychosis must confer some evolutionary advantage and fitness for the species as a whole. Without this advantage and fitness it would defy what we know about the nature and meaning of all aspects of humans as a species in the context of evolutionary biology. It simply does not add up to what we know about evolution to simply consider psychosis as a failure, limit, obstacle, or breakdown of the organism. If it were, it would have disappeared from the evolution of the human mind as a species, rather than what we see — that psychosis consistently appears as a feature of human capacity in all cultures at all times.”

    I don’t believe this is crucial or necessary, and I think it is illogical. The relation of extreme experiences to trauma, stress, poverty, neglect, abuse, suggests that they are attempts at adaptation or attempts to survive the unthinkable. One could say they are adaptive if they allow one to survive extremely adverse experience. I guess you may have a point there – they may be adaptive in their function or intent. Is that what you mean?

    Hmm, now I am thinking about it a bit different.

    I guess I just wish to say that extreme states which represent severe distress and inability to function are not in themselves really beneficial or adaptive (except as a form of temporary survival) – but are rather attempts to survive and get back to a more harmonious, related way of being in the world. So we don’t really want people to go crazy, but we can see that primitive psychological defenses may have adaptive, survival-enhancing qualities, at least at first…. I know there are extreme states which represent transcendence and reaching another spiritual level, but if they do not fundamentally impair a person’s ability to function and relate, I would differentiate them from the experiences being discussed here.

    • “I know there are extreme states which represent transcendence and reaching another spiritual level, but if they do not fundamentally impair a person’s ability to function and relate, I would differentiate them from the experiences being discussed here.”

      Matt, from what I understand about this, a true and authentic spiritual awakening in our society will undoubtedly cause confusion, chaos, ungrounded-ness, and some level of temporary social impairment. It may not necessarily impair one’s ability to function as far as survival goes, but on the way to this awakening, one is flooded with doubt, fear, and questioning their entire reality on the most core level. It is always disorienting, by design. That’s how we find our strength, power, and the clarity of our hearts–the purpose of it all–by overcoming these extreme emotional experience through our faith and trust in the natural order of things, ultimately leading us to our own sense of self-synchronicity, aka alignment.

      A spiritual awakening happens when family, social, and media illusions/programming dissolve, leaving one with the feeling of being in a void (dark-night-of-the-soul). It is how old internal systems, beliefs, and dynamics break down, which is a hardy state of transition.

      Emerging from the dark night into the light of awakening means a radical shift in perspective, which will more than likely not be harmonious with one’s environment, until more and more people awaken. But there is definitely suffering involved, because old wounds must come up to heal in order to awaken, and that can be rocky, especially when people are in the habit of suppressing their feelings and being in denial, by looking outward, through projecting filters, more than inward, in ownership.

      Still, the tools and faith we acquire in order to overcome this are what become part of a new way of living, from new beliefs and new ways of perceiving reality, and self. We learn our heart’s truth, our inner guidance, way above and beyond what comes to us from the outside, all those opinions and judgments. They have no bearing on an awakened soul, other than as a reflection of the world around them.

      When we drug or otherwise interfere with a natural human process, as opposed to supporting it and seeing it through, then we disrupt the awakening, and that’s when people get STUCK in suffering, because the process of human nature and evolution is being tampered with aggressively. That will never lead to anything good, not ever. I don’t see how it could.

      This is my own personal perspective of this, based on my experience and others I know who have gone through this process. I’ve heard people say they’ve awakened because at one moment in their lives, they experienced being “one with everything.” That feeling comes and goes, whether or not one is awake. I believe it is more complex than this, and reaches deeply into our heart, spirit and overall awareness. It is life changing in the most fundamental way.

      Spiritual awakening is often called “re-birth,” and births are not pretty, they are messy and painful. But from the mud grows the lotus, and therein lies the prize of the arduous process of spiritual awakening–just like a newborn baby, so eager to give and receive love, simply by natural instinct.

      And when love is not flowing, then there is no light, it gets dark. That would cause all sorts of extreme states and a whole host of potential issues, health and otherwise, because it means we are operating purely in illusion.

      When we start feeling the love again, we begin to awaken to our spirits, which is our inherent manual for living, unique to each of us. That is healing, 100% of the time.

  3. “Mental Health, Community Development, and Human Liberation”

    Mental Health and Community Development are contradictory concepts.

    Mental Health and Human Liberation are contradictory concepts.

    The concept of Mental Health originates with the concept of Mental Illness, and that is merely a way of further stigmatizing and abusing those who have already been socially marginalized and abused.

    And then the Psychiatry / Psychotherpy / Recovery / Healing approach is based on an obvious lie. They are saying that you can restore your social and civil standing without engaging in conflict with real people. They are telling you that the only problem is the one between your own two ears.

    Nomadic

  4. Homosexuality, unlike psychosis, is not learned, nor is it an adaptation. The author is naive to assume that “the capacity for psychosis must confer some evolutionary advantage and fitness for the species as a whole.” Rather, consciousness as a whole confers a net evolutionary advantage despite the fact that our minds sometimes creates delusions, confabulations, and adaptations having no particular survival benefit.

    Young minds are necessarily association machines that provide us with the ability to learn and imagine as well as to become psychotic. Similarly, our big brains meant that some mothers died in childbirth, but overall, a large net benefit accrued to our species from having a big brain.

  5. Thanks for the interesting write up, Will. When I was reading the part about attitudes of homosexuals vs. homophobes in the past, suffice it to say, I am relieved things have changed. But it brought to mind how initially incomprehensibly inappropriate I found all the psychiatric practicers I met, people who believed it was their right to judge a book solely by it’s cover, misogynists who believe all intelligent and insightful women should be drugged apparently. And one of the cultural differences between India and the US is that India has a caste system, whereas in the US we are supposed to believe ‘all people are created equal.’

    One of the things I’ve noticed in my research is that our educational system has been teaching a lot of misinformation in recent decades, and part of this misinformation is it has been teaching doctors to believe in a caste system, which I consider inappropriate in the US. And as a medical researcher who definitely knows more about my own medical history than any doctor, and who knows the medical journals have been filled with fraudulent pharmaceutical funded misinformation for seemingly decades now. I do hope our medical schools stop teaching doctors to believe in a caste system, and that “the doctor knows best,” especially given that medical error is at least the third leading cause of death in the US right now. Being a member of an industry filled with unrepentant murderers is not actually something of which to be proud.

    Which brings me to my last point, which is that your piece exuded a ‘divide and conquer’ mentality, which was Hillary Clinton’s mantra during her run for the Presidency. This is also a war tactic, and it was not the winning campaign strategy. Our society needs to learn to coexist in a mutually respectful, non-judgement, and cooperative manner instead – and this includes the medical profession and our politicians, some of whom need to learn to show a lot less hubris and a lot more respect of others and the law, and that’s from one Chappaqua / Chicago gal to another. It is our current society which is insane and inappropriate, not those of us who wish for peace on earth.

    • Oh, I will mention I do agree with you that the “political” belief that “psychosis” can not occur to any human, and instead is a disease, does need to be changed. The politicians should not be dictating medical realities, or in this case falsities. And what is called “psychosis” is not always a bad thing, spiritual awakenings are being called “psychosis” today, as are dream queries, gut instincts, and the mere act of thinking, which is absurd. When one experiences a spiritual awakening it takes the form of uniting one’s subconscious self with one’s conscious self and the unity of all of humanity including God, resulting in one becoming a more enlightened being. This is a good thing, rather than a bad thing.

      It should, however, be pointed out that both the antidepressants and antipsychotics in high enough doses (and in my case it only took a child’s dose) can indeed create “psychosis” in any person too, via anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxidrome

      When one is suffering from an antidepressant/antipsychotic induced anticholinergic toxidrome “psychosis,” I will say this is a disgusting and counter productive form of “psychosis.” I hope the psychiatrists and mainstream medical doctors grow up and learn that their psychotropic drugs do indeed create the symptoms of their DSM disorders some day. The DSM “medical model” is based upon scientific fraud and greed inspired ignorance, and this DSM disease model approach to “mental healthcare” should be thrown in the crapper, as a dissident psychiatrist once suggested.

      I hope the politicians get out of the business of dictating medical truths and falsities, since this is not their field of specialty. And when one dictates out of ignorance, one creates chaos. I’d like the chaos that has taken over this country to end. Out of chaos comes order, they say, I for one am sick of the chaos, and hope we move towards order soon.

  6. Hi Will, your focus about experiences existing in relationship has been so beautifully developed in this essay. Again, things begin to become clear for me thanks to your writing, responses to others in workshops and conversations shared on m-radio.

  7. I am from India, and there is so much information I would like to know. I am pretty tired of the whole psychiatry thing, and I regret that I did not have enough information before I got into it. I did not even have much power when I was younger (I am still fairly young).

    If anyone can help me out with the following, please give me the required information:

    1.) Where can I find a doctor who will abide by the following rules:

    a.) Will not psychiatrically label me with DSM nonsense (any of the labels present in the DSM like “bipolar disorder” etc.)

    b.) Who does not call the side effects of psychiatric drugs a disorder (for example, calling mania caused by SSRIs “bipolar disorder” [they all seem to do it]).

    c.)I tend to be very confrontational with psychiatrists, especially because they don’t like it when these things are brought up. I am afraid that if I go to anyone they might label me with a “personality disorder” because of these very facts. Labelling people with “personality disorders” is not treatment. The medicalisation of a human being’s personality and labelling them with such nonsense is not treatment. It is not something the labellers would do to their own sons and daughters (and if they did, they would be terrible parents). It is defamation and libel, irrespective of how I behave. I will try my best to sue the doctor if he ever tries to do that to me.

    The doctor must agree to write anything he wants to in a descriptive manner, instead of using labels. It is a lot more honest and lot less deceptive to do that.

    d.) Who will not coerce me into “therapy” (I simply call it listening and talking), not use deceptive quasi-medical DSM jargon, and not disease-monger and who will not try to influence members of my family and me using these tactics.

    e.) Who will not prescribe garbage in the name of “treatment” i.e. drugs, the side effects of which are even worse than the low mood they are being prescribed for.

    f.) Who is okay with once a year visits to simply collect a prescription and leave.

    Note: I am asking this, because I am already on a few drugs that I find useful and have taken 10 years to find. For 10 years, I was prescribed horrible garbage that caused mania, sexual dysfunction, horrible tremors etc. They made me feel like a cripple. I have none of those things anymore, so I’m happy. The reason I got the new drugs is because I came on this site (even contacted one of the doctors here who is a colleague of the guy I went to).

    And the only reason I am even asking this, and even have to go to one of these highly irritating and mostly useless individuals is because I am mandated by law to require a prescription to buy drugs at a medical store.
    ***

    I also have many legal queries because I have already been part of my parents’ divorce case in which my incredibly abusive and psychopathic pathological liar of a male sperm donor (read “biological father”) wrote a lot of horrible lies and manipulations and used a lot of DSM labels against both me and my mother, without knowing anything about them.

    Note: I know I’m making allegations against someone, and these need not be believed, but we have provided enough evidence in court regarding these. I have enough evidence too in the form of audio recordings, photographs, videos etc. Please ignore the above paragraph, and the rest of the post is my main point.

    My queries:

    1.) In case I come into an agreement with a psychiatrist regarding the above requirements, but he still disregards them, for example, labels me with DSM labels, especially “personality disorders”, can I sue him for defamation?

    2.) Information about psychiatric practices from a legal point of view, and how cases have turned out for individuals who are labelled, and how I can safeguard my self.

    Let me give you some examples from my country of deceptive and dangerous practices that lawyers and psychiatrists can pull off.

    In the case of Pankaj Mahajan vs Dimple (30th Septermber 2011)

    Dr. Paramjit Singh of Medical College Amritsar writes: “This disease is Bipolar Affective Disorder. I treated her during this period. She was admitted in Emergency because her disease was in quite serious stage. In this disease, the patient can commit suicide. When she came, she was aggressive and irritable. If the proper treatment is not given to the respondent then her aggressive nature can be prolonged.

    Bipolar Affective Disorder (primarily a psychiatric label) is mentioned as a disease, with no reasons given as to why she experienced the depression or mania (who knows? It could be trauma that caused depression and iatrogenic reaction as a result of SSRI antidepressants that caused mania) that results in the label of Bipolar Disorder.

    Without such an explanation, the circularity is striking:

    Patient: Why did I experience depression/mania?
    Doctor: Because you have Bipolar Disorder
    Patient: Why do I have bipolar disorder?
    Doctor: Because you experienced depression/mania.

    In other words, it’s like saying a headache caused her head to hurt.

    “Her disease was in a serious stage” makes it sound like she has cancer which has metastasised to different parts of her body. “Suicide is possible in this disease”, however no information is given as to what her reasons for wanting to commit suicide were except a psychiatric label. What her aggressive nature is and her reasons for being aggressive are not mentioned except a psychiatric label which is descriptive.

    Some of the tactics lawyers, doctors or the opposition use are the misuse of psychiatric labels.

    For example “The opposite party suffers from schizophrenia as a result of which she has paranoid thoughts” etc. So, here a label, instead of being used as a description, is instead misleadingly being used imply causation.

    This allows for particularly deceptive tactics. For example, taking a particular label, reading up the worst possible behaviours associated with that label and alleging the opposite party suffers from all those and that it is caused by the label. Since psychiatric labels can be somewhat vague and can refer to various things for which the person has been labelled, it is easy to play around with them and use them against someone to delegitimise what they say and to manipulate and distort facts and/or even lie outright.

    In such cases, having a bipolar diagnosis due to mania caused by SSRIs (like me), and having experienced spontaneous manias makes a difference.

    The patient has to hope and rely on the charity of his/her consulting psychiatrist or head of department to do the right thing. This makes one a beggar.

    And clearly, if you have gone to a number of these fools, you will have more junk and more labels in your files, which will only add to your misery.

    Yet another psychiatrist in the same case writes:

    Dr. Virendra Mohan (PW-3), M.D. Psychiatry writes:

    She was diagnosed as a Chronic Paranoid Schizophrenic. There is no direct relationship in the stress or strain with the disease. Second time, she was admitted by her father Prem Kumar on 28.09.1999 and was discharged on 05.10.1999.

    Yet another psychiatric label, this time, it’s schizophrenia. Is she bipolar or schizophrenic? This just confirms my suspicion that the more psychiatrists you go to, the more labels you get and the garbage written down about you in your files increases exponentially. Also, stress and strain has nothing to do with one’s mental state? Ridiculous.

    What would the average lawyer or judge understand of these things? Nothing. They will rely on the words of the “trained professionals” most of whom will not do something against their own interests.

    Since I have already seen how much subjective junk these people can write about you in your files, the kind of long distance diagnosing they do of people, that they label people with disorders for side effects of drugs, how short sighted and ignorant they can be (especially the residents and junior doctors), I tend to be wary of all this.

    Wrong dates, symptoms I don’t have, incorrect medicines, dosages, wrong timelines of occurences etc. are all things I have seen in my files.
    ***

    If any such individuals are present, please provide me the details of where I can find them, and even though, India being a pretty large country, might require me to travel large distances, I have no problem going wherever I need to, to meet one of these individuals.

    I entered into this shit, hoping to get helped. I did not know it would complicate my life so much. At my age, I have ended up fighting two wars. One against my abusive psychopathic father and the other against psychiatric nonsense. I want out of this.