I think a lot about why I can’t work therapeutically with people in the mental illness system. I have found that the same traumatic dynamic comes up with some frequency outside that system, too, with “healers” of all stripes really — alternative doctors, energy workers, therapists of various sorts, you name it… if they are in the healing profession they’ve hurt me and people like me. Some of us are like magnets to people’s ugliness. This is a sort of karmic phenomena for some of us, and to change it we must become aware of how it works under the surface because it’s not a conscious process for anyone involved. Clinicians are the worst because they’re in a position of power and they deny that this is happening. That of course adds to the injurious nature of the dynamic.
As power dynamics will have it, when those in power deny their abuses it’s straight up oppression happening and it harms. Badly.
The problematic dynamic can arise with anyone I dare to be vulnerable with. Given that healing requires allowing ourselves to get vulnerable, this is a recipe for pain and disaster. I think most of us that have been gravely harmed by psychiatry have this dynamic going on to some extent. It’s also clear that not everyone experiences the mental illness system in this way. That has often given me pause and reason to contemplate what, exactly, is going on.
I have, indeed, found deeply respectful people who can see me and hold space for that which I’ve experienced, but those folks are a rarity and I have discovered I cannot find them by searching for them. They seem to, instead, reveal themselves as this journey of healing moves forward and healing comes. In my surrender process I find that good things come if I allow rather than search. It’s a nuanced thing and it’s often a source of annoyance and pain as I learn patience.
I worked in this sick system too for many years. So I’ve seen it from both sides of the proverbial couch.
These are some tweets that arose while I was musing on the victim/perpetrator axis:
Victim and perpetrator are involved in a sick dance. As a victim I meditate on my half of this dance… what am I bringing to the equation?
How do I release the burden of victimhood once and for all so that perpetrators no longer have any hold on me?
Vulnerability that the victim displays catches and brings out shadow shit in karmically matched perpetrators. How do we recognize and let go?
This is not about letting the perpetrator off the hook, but instead it’s about ending our own victimhood… no longer allowing it to happen at all. We can’t change them — we can become aware and thus learn to not engage at all. Ideally we come to do this with neither fear nor rage in our hearts because we start to understand and see the whole dance.
Those of us with psych survivor histories (complex post traumatic stress, etc) seem to bring out shadow shit in just about all so-called mental health professionals (as well as healers of all stripes).
So, yes, we bring out the perpetrator in people who like to fancy themselves healers… and that ain’t no pretty thing.
No, it’s really a very ugly thing since those who fancy themselves helpful do not want to see how they can harm so very badly, and so they deny it with force and vigor, hurting us all the more.
More could be said, but this is feeling finished for now. I’ve written more on this topic here:
- Professional denial is a form of retraumatization
- Psychiatry ignores trauma
- Being the empowered patient
- Perceived madness will unleash unprovoked violence (violation) by cops, authorities etc.
- Healing journey — The truth is that my journey to healing has been so isolated, both by necessity and because there has been NO available professionals with the appropriate skill sets, I’ve had to find my own healing path.
- Healing journey part 2 (Attn: mental health professionals of all stripes) — It’s okay to let your clients leave you without declaring them resistant to your care. They know better than you do when they are ready to work and with whom. It should not be assumed that just because they walk out of your office they are not finding their way even as they take that action.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.