I’ve been intrigued by the way the battle against mental health system oppression has drawn on two important and powerful ideas — which happen to contradict each other!
One is the idea that people can “recover” from mental health problems. Asserting the possibility of recovery has been key to fighting back against the oppressive belief that certain people will always be “mentally ill” and will need to resign themselves to a limited life as a mental patient, etc.
The second idea is that people may not have to change to be OK and valuable — that people can even be proud of what has been called madness! Mad pride helps people fight back against the oppressive notion that one has to be “normal” to be acceptable, and that mental diversity means illness.
But, if one is perfectly OK as one is, then there is no need for recovery. In fact, if one is already quite OK, then the suggestion that one should work on recovery can itself be oppressive — like offering “reparative therapy” for gay people.
On the other hand, if one’s mental state and current beliefs are causing lots of problems that are keeping one stuck, then being encouraged to be proud of that mental state can become a barrier to changing or recovering and so can deepen or prolong problems and oppression.
Contradictions like those outlined above can lead to battles between activists about how to move forward. They can also lead to battles, and confusion, within people who are trying to find the best way to deal with their own “mad” states.
What I want to show is that it’s possible to embrace both “recovery” and “mad pride” despite the contradictions. But to do so, we need to be aware of both the advantages and the “down” or “shadow” side of each of these notions.
Let’s start by looking at the concept of recovery.
Compared to mad pride, recovery has been much more widely embraced. It has even been embraced by much or most of the mental health system — though often what is embraced is just the word itself, and not the possible reality! But because of its popularity, it has also been more widely critiqued, and some have even advocated that we stop using the word altogether.
One common critique is that the word “recovery” implies that one must have been ill in the first place, and so this word should not be used when the problem never was an “illness.” However, people do “recover” from many things that aren’t an illness: we recover our balance, we recover from injuries, we even recover from the down side of events that were overall positive, as in “I’ve finally recovered from that wild party I attended last night!” Krista Mackinnon, in her “Recovering Our Families” course, emphasizes that all humans are constantly recovering from all sorts of things, and so “recovery” is not something unique to those who have been psychiatrically labeled.
A stronger critique of the notion of recovery points out that recovery involves going back to something, while many prefer to see their life as going forward. John Herold for example talks about wanting to move toward “discovery” and not “recovery.” I agree with that up to a point, but I also notice that we often have to go back to something we had possessed previously in order to move forward overall. For example, if I used to know how to face people and maintain friendships, but then I seemed to have lost that ability during an emotional crisis, I may want to recover the skills and habits I had before so that I can then get on with my life and move into that wider process of discovery.
Then there’s the problem of the word being co-opted to mean something much less than real recovery. For example lots of mental health programs use the recovery word, but their practices remain targeted towards lifelong drugging and containment of the person, with “recovery” apparently meaning only getting to where the person won’t be in crisis so much. I understand why that sort of use of the word “recovery” makes people want to vomit, but I would rather work on reclaiming the word, rather than giving it up. The US government can call a nuclear missile a “Peacekeeper” but that doesn’t mean we need to quit using the word “peace.” I think our best strategy is to continue to emphasize the true meaning of recovery and to contrast truly recovery-oriented treatment with that which is not.
Adding complexity to discussions of recovery is the distinction between “clinical recovery,” or no longer experiencing “symptoms,” versus “personal recovery” which has been defined as “recovering a life worth living.”
Interestingly, within standard care, “personal recovery” is often framed as the proper goal because of a belief that “clinical recovery” is not possible. In other words, it is believed that the person will always have symptoms and will always be less than healthy than others because of that, but they may still learn to “recover a life worth living” despite continuing to be ill. (Of course, this notion that they are still ill can be used to convince people to stay on their drugs, which makes this interpretation popular amongst those who embrace the medical model but who still want to offer some appearance of hope.)
But there is a deeper and more valid reason to focus on personal recovery rather than clinical. That’s because the experiences that the mental health system called “symptoms” may not be a problem at all once the person learns to live with them. Hearing voices for example may be benign or even helpful once the person learns to relate to them differently. And once experiences no longer cause problems, there is no longer a need for drugs or any kind of treatment to manage them.
Of course, it’s the idea that people don’t need to change, and that their differences may be OK or even something quite valuable, that is basic to that idea that sometimes seems in opposition to recovery: mad pride.
“You are only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” Robin Williams
From a radical mad pride perspective, there is only mental diversity, and not any mental problems, disorders, or illnesses. People do best when they accept and become proud of themselves as they are rather than try to change. If people have problems, or seem to be disabled in some way, it’s just because society has failed to accommodate their differences, and so it’s society that needs to change.
But what are the problems with this kind of radical mad pride perspective?
One issue is that if I am suffering in some way, while believing that there is nothing wrong with me but only problems with others, and if it’s also true that I don’t have the power to make others change, then I am stuck with my suffering. Working on recovery from a problem may not require accepting that one is ill, but it at least requires accepting that something needs to be changed; but pride is the opposite of believing in a need for change.
Another problem is the adversarial relationships that a radical mad pride perspective can create with others. If I for example demand that others change their attitudes and start accepting me just as I am and if I demand that they change in other ways to accommodate my differentness, while I insist that I am perfectly fine as I am and don’t need to change anything, I may just piss people off. I’m certainly not likely to be effective at winning friends and forming peaceful relationships, since good relationships tend to be built when people are willing to change at least some to accommodate each other, at least when they are able to do so.
On the other hand, the notion of radically accepting ourselves just as we are can often seem to be the very core of peace of mind and mental healing. So it can all seem quite complex.
How can all this be best resolved? Or, how can we take what is best about mad pride, and what is best about recovery, without getting caught up in the shadow side of each?
I think it may help to take a step back, and look in more general terms at how we can resolve other kinds of contradictions.
It’s not uncommon that things are opposites, but we find ourselves needing both. Breathing in for example is a good thing, but so is breathing out, even though that’s the opposite. Our ability to open up to people and trust is a good thing, but so at certain times is our ability to close up and distrust.
Mental health issues can be notoriously complex. People can go through terrifying, bewildering experiences that may also have a very important positive side. Or, experiences may seem to be quite positive, but then lead to something very detrimental.
It’s also possible that an experience we want to recover from at one point may be something that later we wish to regain. In my own life I can identify times I have worked to recover from “madness” and to regain my ability to integrate with normality, and then also times when it seemed more important to turn around and work to recover from that normality trance, so I could reclaim what I had discovered when I first went “out of my mind.”
One metaphor for madness is that of revolution. Revolution overthrows the existing order — then anything is possible, which is both great and terrible. Revolution is both something to be proud of, when it is necessary and when it works out well, and it is something to recover from, so that order can be restored.
When we over-value sanity, we stick with an existing order in rigid ways that can be oppressive. When we over-value madness, or revolts against sanity, we can get lost in disorder. Life though works best at the edge of chaos and order, so it may require both rebellion against order and efforts to recover order.
One way to map relations between polarities, where neither polar opposite provides a full answer, is to use what is called a polarity management map. These maps make overt what is positive and negative about each polarity, and suggest that each polarity is the solution for the problems caused by the other.
Below is a polarity management map about recovery versus mad pride. It suggests that there is no final answer to resolving the tensions between mad pride and recovery, or between madness and sanity generally. Rather, whenever we emphasize the positive of one side, we will also sooner or later encounter its negative, and then may have to shift to the opposite side.
If we follow this line of thinking, it follows that there are no final answers as to when a focus on change and recovery is best, versus when it might be better to instead be proud of one’s current state and perspective, even if it is somewhat “mad.” Instead, we will be more open to exploring what might fit or seem healthy, or not, in any given situation. And we will be open to the possibility that whatever we choose now, we will later be called upon to choose the opposite.
When we are too sure that our side is right, that “God is on our side,” we end up at war with our opposite. People who are too sure that their current mental view or version of sanity is correct will go to war against that which opposes it, be they voices or other people who are seen as mentally wrong. But going to war just makes everything more extreme, and prevents the “peaceful revolutions” that are possible when people realize that their current polarity is just one side of a more complex picture.
Modern humans are not, of course, the first to struggle with these issues. Spiritual traditions going back to ancient times wrestle with how to relate to the limits of any existing order, and how to find value in what is outside of that order, or “outside of our minds.” While these traditions are not perfect, and have too many times been bent to completely corrupt and oppressive purposes, they also contain reminders that we humans do our best not when we stay confined within a mundane “sanity” but rather when we allow ourselves, at least at times, to open up to what goes beyond.
What would mental health treatment look like if it balanced an awareness of the need for “recovery” with an awareness that people also sometimes need to go “out of their minds” to resolve problems that they haven’t been able to solve otherwise, or maybe that their entire culture has not been able to face and resolve?
To explore some possible answers to that question, I recently put together a new online course, “Addressing Spiritual Issues Within Treatment for Psychosis and Bipolar.” This course outlines some radically different ways of conceptualizing the mental states that get called “psychosis” and “bipolar” and reviews ways that professionals can shift from pretending to “know it all” to being helpful to people as they face some of the bigger mysteries together. In the course, I try to strike a balanced position that avoids both “romanticizing” extreme states and the more common mistake of “awfulizing” or “pathologizing” them.
This course comes with 6 CE for most US professionals, and until 5/22/19, it is available at a discount to professionals and free to non-professionals, such as people with lived experience and family members. Use the links above to get more information, or to register.
A few more thoughts:
One other possibly helpful metaphor for madness is that of wilderness.
It can be disturbing when young people wander off into the wilderness. What if they become lost, and need to be rescued? Sometimes people do need to be rescued. But a society too sure that the wilderness is nothing but bad will seek to prevent young people from ever wandering off, won’t recognize when people are doing OK in their explorations and don’t need to be rescued, and/or will even seek to destroy the wilderness so that everything can be “civilized” — aka, sane.
But any society that cuts itself off from the wilderness, and/or declares war on what is wild, does so only at its own peril. Certainly, modern civilization or “normality” has declared war on the wild, and it does often seem that it is winning. But that “winning” is a most terrible thing, and puts us all in danger!
Rather than winning, we need to focus more on finding a dynamic balance, or peaceful coexistence. The peaceful coexistence between recovery and mad pride that I have proposed is just one example of that.
Emerson said that “People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.” It’s time that we define mental health not as some settled “sanity” but as the unsettled and possibly playful dialogue that results when we value both madness and sanity, and when we explore together with those whom we wish to help rather than impose our own version of some settled, and dead, “correct answer.”
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.
Mad in America has made some changes to the commenting process. You no longer need to login or create an account on our site to comment. The only information needed is your name, email and comment text. Comments made with an account prior to this change will remain visible on the site.
I will never support “mad pride” , like I would never support “cancer pride”. Psychiatric survivor pride, yes.
There is a cancer pride movement. They wear pink.
cancer survivor pride movement yes
The distinction is of considerable usefulness
I firmly believe my thinking was messed up. (It still is a little.)
By putting me on mind altering drugs and telling me I could never change, the “mental health” system was the opposite of helpful.
I’m so thankful I have a soul again. I am a human being after all!
“The second idea is that people may not have to change to be OK and valuable — that people can even be proud of what has been called madness!”
This dichotomy leaves out the most important idea, namely, that so-called “mental illness” itself is a myth. There is no reason to be proud or ashamed of fictitious “diseases.” The only real madness is psychiatry’s obsession with promoting and promulgating the myth of “mental illness” in order to cover up it’s own illegitimacy.
I don’t think the words are the same. Mad people are irrational. Mentally ill people are sick or unwell. The evolution of an idea went like this: first there was mad, and people thought they had to do something about them, and that something included segregating them from society at large (i.e. locking them up). Thinking that the mad would receive less harsh treatment if they were thought of as “sick”, they came up with this idea of “mental illness”. The word has now sort of gone full circle whereby physical treatments, the result of seeing “illness” as the culprit, has resulted in treatments that are maiming and killing people on a large scale. Also, these treatments have less than spectacular outcomes as a rule. Homo sapiens, the word for our species, in Latin means “wise man”. Unfortunately, I don’t think wisdom really characterizes the species. Humans, in case you haven’t noticed, are very gullible. They possess intelligence, maybe, they are knowledgeable, perhaps, but one thing they are not, as a rule of thumb, is wise.
Ron, interesting thoughts but I disagree. There are those two paradigms but you have totally ignored the most important paradigm abuse.
As a LISW with twenty years of social work in areas of children and adults and families and trauma of all kinds, and in the MH system inside and outside and with experiences with the old state institution system. There are places field students were NOT ALLOWED to go into I know medical malpractice and abuse when I see it, even if I was zonked out of my mind and dealing with life trauma not of my own making.
I was severely traumatized by the so called treatment from friends taking it into their own hands you need a shrink and calling on my mother who was dealing with my terminally ill only sister and her three small children ect ect ect and saying YOU NEED MEDICATION never once allowing me the gift of oh she ‘s got her hands full but I trust her to ask for help if she needs it. And I never would have chosen a public park system to confront a person dealing with nonlocus of control events. A letter if you really felt the need to become involved would have been hah! the sane thing to do. And then calling my mother with names and phone numbers of shrinks was just the beginning of my years of total disaster.
And then to have the majority of the so called professionals not to treat that trauma or ask about other non locus of control life events borders on cruel and unusual punishment or I would even venture to say torture.
Whether a survivor self identifies with recovery or with the idea of a pride movement – whatever works to get you through life. And I would not expect folks to be in one Camp or the other or some may have arms and legs in different streams, again whatever works.
Restorative Justice. And if one knows anything about it – not perfect and one can never take back the disaster years but a formal apology, a clearing of the diagnosis or diagnoses would be a kind of benchmark to begin with.
I also suggest you read about anti- facits and Marxist’s in Vichy France who were at risk of internment or prison. Some never recovered.And when I was in an Unit it was more internment than anything else. Some prison systems the ones that are not in the south or made for abuse actually have kitchens, and libraries, and outside time ie The Shawshank Redemption. Club Fed as well.
This is not the time for thought experiments in paradigms but thanks for your effort. Another time maybe?
I agree totally with your point that the professionals not dealing with your trauma was cruel and unusual punishment. I experienced the very same kind of thing. My mother was dying from emphysema. She was being physically abused by my stepfather of 42 years. So, I quit my job in one city and moved myself into their home in another city 250 miles away. I had to give up my home on a lake and a job that I liked but I had to protect my mother’s last 17 months of life. While my stepfather could bully and verbally abuse my brothers and sister into not interfering I became his worst nightmare. He retaliated in many diverse and bizarre ways during that time. She died and was buried one day after my birthday. One year to the day of my mother’s funeral I received word that my sister was dead in New York City. She’d been murdered. These to women were the two most important people in my life and all of a sudden they were dead and gone. I turned my back on my stepfather and two brothers and walked away but I couldn’t walk away from the trauma that I’d experienced. To top everything off, I was trapped in a city that I hated, with no friends or supports of any kind. This eventually led to my trying to kill myself. I almost accomplished my goal but was caught in the net of the mental health system.
I expected psychiatrists to actually do therapy or something that might actually help people resolve their issues. Boy was I ever in for a rude awakening! I dealt with five psychiatrists in my journey to get back out of the system and only one of the five was willing to listen to my story about what was responsible for my finding myself in the system in the first place. The rest had no use for my trying to explain to them why I was experiencing deep and abiding anguish. They dismissed my story as unimportant and as having no bearing on anything of any importance. When I told one of them that I was not doing well because of my sister’s death, making me feel that my world was crumbling around me, he screamed, “That’s stupid!” And he called himself a “doctor”. I was shocked.
I was never a great fan of any kind of doctor before all of this happened. Now I have a deep and abiding contempt for most psychiatrists that I meet. I have no use for any of them since they do nothing to actually help people and everything to keep them chained by their issues and enslaved to the drugs that are called “treatment”. They destroyed my grandmother and they tried to destroy me. I was bound and determined to beat them at their own game and I did so. They are useless and do nothing for the trauma that people have suffered. They are beyond contempt.
I think your story is compelling, and shows you are a true humanitarian. I hope that one of my children will be so kind to me in my latter years. Kudos to you for being a compassionate and loving man, Stephan.
I agree, “I have no use for any [psychiatrists or psychologists] since they do nothing to actually help people and everything to keep them chained by their issues and enslaved to the drugs that are called ‘treatment’ … They are useless and do nothing for the trauma that people have suffered.” They actually do worse than nothing, they deny trauma and/or abuse ever occur.
According to Dr Alan Frances (I believe) to be mentally ill a person has got to suffer from distress.
Psychiatric hospitals came with the Industrial Reveloution when a person wasn’t of much use Industrially if they weren’t “normal” – but there are completely legitimate environments in the real world where to be “normal” a person is not likely to survive (very well).
(Medicine today, (I believe) itself is now a completely industrial environment where to question anything can mean automatic “death”).
Ron Unger, maybe long ago, when Soteria started, people really believed in Mental Illness, so the idea of Recovery was a step forwards.
But today, Mental Illness is known to be nonsense. So no I would not go along with Mad Pride.
But what is Recovery? Well it is used to manage the poor. It is more of a religious idea than anything else.
So you have the Capitalism and the Middle-Class Family, two sides of the Self-Reliance Ethic coin, used to find a large percentage of the population in non-compliance.
So then this underclass is managed by Psychiatry, Drugs, Psychotherapy, Recovery, and Salvation Religion.
And all of these things are pushed by the government.
So I see the following objectives:
1. Eliminating the drugs and putting Psychatrists out of business, eliminating their licensing.
2. Putting Psychotherapists out of business and suing them for “Transference Abuse”, with the ends being the elimination of such licenses.
3. Shutting down all gov’t related Recovery Programs, like courts sending people to 12 step, and Rick Warren’s programs in the prisons.
4. Cutting off all gov’t support for Jesusolotry, like the Bush 43 Faith Based Charities.
And then helping people to see that there never was anything wrong with them in the first place, nothing for the Psychiatrist, the Psychotherapist, the Recovery Program, or the Salvation Program. Help them to understand that the Self-Reliance Ethic is bogus. And then get people involved in progressive activism, so that they learn shoulder to shoulder, from comrades on the barricades.
Boycott mental health services, en mass, and if successful, you’ve checked off objectives one through four. Like vegetable products, I think the way to go was illustrated by Cesar Chavez and his farm-workers, a general boycott. Strike, too, if mental health workers are amenable. Were mental health services much less popular than they are now there would be way fewer buyers. Disaffected, damaged and angry ex-patients are the way their pool of buyers is going to shrink. Sappy customers just support business as usual.
Yes, boycott all mental health, recovery, and salvation industry venues. Its a start.
I’ve heard NAMIish people talk about “mental illness” survivors. Lol. Rotfl. I’m not a “mental illness” survivor. No, “mental illness” never harmed anybody. I’m a psychiatric treatment survivor.
I’ve gotten to the point where, arguing against consuming human services, I have to be a little “sanist” with regard to myself, and make a case for my own “sanity”. I don’t have a problem with madness. A confession of madness however, as well as getting a person released from treatment, can get a person locked up in treatment. I can do without the torture, thank you.
Mad pride beats mad humility. Sane pride is for normal people, and they’re about as boring as you can get. Everybody is crazy, only some of us have been caught. Recovery is slipping back into disguise and the character that goes with it. Mad, you say, perish the thought.
Torrey’s book was called Surviving Schizophrenia. But according to the book, no one truly survived it. Oh…not without drugs.
E. Fuller Torrey wrote a book on his abolitionist ancestor, Charles Torrey, and I’d say that in doing so, given the parallels, there was a double standard at work. I can’t see how one couldn’t see how chattel slavery relates to psychiatric slavery, nor how a person might not be against one without being against the other.
E. Fuller Torrey also blames psychiatric casualties on psychiatric survivors, but like I said nobody was ever killed by a “mental illness”. Usually, it’s heart disease, organ failure, suicide (personal decision/one’s own hands), or any number of other ill health conditions that follow from complications due to compliance with harmful psychiatric treatment programs and practices.
I have two friends killed by standard psychiatric “treatments.” If either had known about the survivors’ movement she might not have died. 🙁
Psychiatry has messed up my digestive system. I’m glad I escaped when I did. It was killing me too.
Btw, someone should ask shrinks who mock the idea that “mental illness is just a social construct” why drapetomania never made it into the DSM. Benjamin Rush firmly believed in it.
An excellent piece Ron. It explains so well how as humans we are complex, we suffer and are diverse in our thinking and beliefs but how important it is to keep an open-mind to diversity – no labels or discrimination needed. The course offered to professionals and at no-charge to those with lived experience and/or family members is super and sure looks to be most helpful. Thank you for your service.
Madness, mental health, mental illness, genius, talent. Those words are weapons in the mouth of apollonian idiot for whom ego in apollonian archetype and theology of the brain is in the center of the psychological world. They are using empty words without proper meaning in completely false context.
How can it be that someone like Plath was tortured by someone like psychiatrist?
Very high language was always attacked by psychiatric jargon and poets were attacked by apollonian fundamnetalists.
Psychiatric jargon is a cancer of the real human language. And only Hillman knew it.
Why psychiatry is attacking poets? Because psychiatry means apollonian ego fundamnetalism, and poets represent psyche, psychopathology. That is why.
BECAUSE POETS REPRESENT THE REALITY OF DEATH IN FAKE THEOLOGICAL NAIVE SOCIETY IN WHICH DEATH IS A SIN AGAINST GOD. And death is still a dangerous satan for theological psychiatry.
If you represent real human psyche in society of naive spiritual fundamentalists they will kill you in the name of health (theological naivety).
To recover means to resurrect. And resurrection is a spiritual claim.
And only James Hillman noticed it.
Poets and their high language represent psyche, death, and psychiatric jargon represent impaired reality of apollonian fundamentalists, for whom death and psyche does not exists.
You must have extremely strong balls to lose with the state like victims of the psychiatry. Because there are no winners anyway, there are only obedient slaves who thinks they win.
“Below is a polarity management map about recovery versus mad pride.” This seems to imply you are diagnosing the entire anti/critical psychiatry movement, or recovery vs mad pride movements, or whatever those of us who comment on MiA are claimed to be, as all “bipolar.”
I agree with much of what you say, but do disagree that there are only two choices. And believe this is a huge problem with the psychiatric reductionist theology/habit. Human nature and reality includes a wide spectrum of choices, not just two. So I think the “mental health” industry claiming there are only a “mad pride” or a “recovery” movement to choose from is reductionist.
I’m probably more anti-psychiatry over critical psychiatry, because as a psychopharmacology researcher, I know all the psychiatric drugs can create the symptoms of the “serious mental illnesses.” And I think this systemic, medically known harm of innocent people should end.
But I also know the antidepressants can help some people. Although I also know the doctors and “mental health” workers were ignorant of the common symptoms of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, when I was abruptly taken off one, because it didn’t help me stop smoking in 2001.
And the medical industry still largely denies and claims ignorance of the harms of their drugs. And millions, including over a million children, have had the adverse and withdrawal effects of the psychiatric drugs misdiagnosed as the “serious mental illnesses.”
I hope not all the “mental health” workers are hypocritical Holy Spirit blasphemers, as the ones I ran into were, according to their medical records. And I agree, the “mental health” workers should get out of the business of drugging up Christians for belief in the Holy Spirit, so they may cover up the rape and abuse of those Christian’s children, for the hypocritical Christian religions. Which ended up being the motive of my “Christian talk therapist,” and her highly deluded psychiatrist, according to medical records.
I agree, a “society that cuts itself off from the wilderness [or the spiritual], and/or declares war on what is wild [spiritual], only at its own peril. Certainly, modern civilization or ‘normality’ has declared war on the wild [spiritual/God], and it does often seem that it is winning. But that ‘winning’ is a most terrible thing, and puts us all in danger!”
I agree. Since our “mental health” workers’ primary function, both historically and today is, in fact, covering up child abuse.
And “winning,” when that constitutes psychiatrists and psychologists destroying the lives, marriages, health, and reputations of millions, so they may help pedophiles get away with their crimes, is not really a win. It’s more like a lose-lose.
Because when a society has a multibillion dollar, primarily child abuse covering up, group of “mental health” industries, which is what today’s “mental health” industries are. Well, all of western civilization ends up with child sex trafficking and pedophilia crimes running amok.
I agree, “It’s time that we define mental health not as some settled ‘sanity’ but as the unsettled and possibly playful dialogue that results when we value both madness and sanity, and when we explore together with those whom we wish to help rather than impose our own version of some settled, and dead, ‘correct answer.’” “Dead” is correct.
As a Christian, whose entire life was declared to be a “credible fictional story” in the end, which meant I had to leave my delusional, I eventually learned from medical records, child rape covering up psychiatrist. I agree the “mental health” workers should get rid of their hubris, their DSM, and make a serious return towards understanding the importance of treating others in a manner commensurate with how you’d like to be treated.
Oh, that’s right, belief in God, the Holy Spirit, or Jesus’ theology is a “mental illness” to today’s child rape covering up “omnipotent moral busy body” “mental health” workers.
I also found this to be an excellent piece and a thought-provoking examination of the contradictions between mad pride and recovery. The polarity map was excellent and a useful tool I haven’t come across before. I’ll try and use that when I’m in another mental mexican stand-off. It’ll be useful I’m sure.
I do plan to write quite a bit more at some point about polarity management maps and the way they could be used to better understand mental health issues, including what gets called “bipolar disorder.” Interestingly, they were developed to deal with issues that come up in organizations, and as far as I know haven’t been applied to most mental health issues.
I see another choice out there. There is something to recover from. The mental health system!
I have a chapter in my book on social media and mad pride. Only I titled the chapter something else. I do not think it’s a good idea for people to use social media to boast about how sick they are. There’s kind of a cult around that. If you do that, you’re going to attract followers who are morbidly fascinated with illness and death. The very presence of followers is like a reward. Get sicker, get more admirers. The formula looks lucrative until you realize they aren’t very good friends.
This is an addictive tendency, sorry to say. It is a vicious cycle. I have seen people go down a very bad path doing that. I fear that Mad Pride is stoking the fire for this. I don’t think this was the original intent of Mad Pride.
On the other hand, I believe our society needs to be more accepting of human variety of expression. There are no bad emotions, only ones that make therapists upset. This translates in a bunch of mythology being generated in the media, that dreams up a new disorder every day! They post a new disorder, and people immediately latch onto it and then, it’s another disaster, another new doorway to the nuthouse. Pssst…someone certainly profits from it!
I agree with you that there are no “bad emotions” in the sense of emotions we should never have, but I don’t agree that people have trouble with emotions only because therapists see a problem! It’s so much more complex than that.
Take fear for example. In many ways it’s a great emotion to have, it can save our lives, push us to avoid danger. But people can get in huge trouble with it, when fear is overgrown people can become afraid to leave their home, afraid to interact with other people, their lives can be ruined. All that can happen without ever going to a mental health professional or taking a psych drug – that’s why I think people are really dreaming when they imagine there would be no “mental health” problems if there were no mental health system.
At the same time, it is an unfortunate truth that for many people, their problems were not so big before they turned to the mental health system and got “help” that made things way worse.
I would like to imagine a society where, when people have been traumatized or when they run into other sorts of mental or emotional problems, they can turn somewhere and get help from other people that is really helpful. It’s in some ways a simple dream, but I don’t think we can ever get there if we keep imagining that bad “help” is the only kind of problem out there.
“I would like to imagine a society where, when people have been traumatized or when they run into other sorts of mental or emotional problems, they can turn somewhere and get help from other people that is really helpful. It’s in some ways a simple dream, but I don’t think we can ever get there if we keep imagining that bad “help” is the only kind of problem out there.”
Thank you for this – this is my dream as well.
In navigating my own path, my biggest frustration has been trying to find helpful “help”. I can tell you what wasn’t help -involuntary incarceration for my own “protection”, medications that had me climbing the walls and attempting suicide, diagnoses that blamed me for my trauma…but finding healing – that’s been a struggle…not insurmountable – but damn…
I tend to lean towards “mad pride” (especially when I’m angry at the entire system)…recovery – from what? Healing may be a better word…but it really sucks that so much healing has to occur regarding the “help” I received.
Yes, it is very unfortunate that healing has to occur regarding what was offered as “help.”
I do think it is interesting though that the way people try to help themselves can also turn out to be unhelpful. For example someone betrayed by important people in their lives might withdraw from society in an attempt to protect themselves, but as a result their life might fall apart and they end up not having any social support etc. It can be overprotection that causes damage, which in some ways parallels the way the mental health system can think it is protecting people but do way more damage than help.
I agree wholeheartedly, Ron, that some ways that we try to help ourselves are not productive. Some people go out drinking, which is often very unhelpful and can be destructive.
However, not everyone deals with adversity in an unhealthy manner. A person might go out running, for instance. I found found for myself that I do better without that so-called help. Why? Because the absence of that help gives me the space to find the answer within myself. It is there, and in fact, it always was. When you have “help” in your life, you will turn to that help and then, lose your trust in yourself and your own ability to solve problems.
I certainly agree that often people do find effective ways to help themselves all by themselves. It’s just when they can’t find a way to do that, or even more when they stumble into ways of trying to help themselves that inadvertently makes things worse, that they may need external help.
I don’t agree that everyone who turns to external help will lose trust in themselves and their own ability to solve problems. Often, when we watch someone help us, we figure out what they are doing and realize we could do it next time for ourselves. I know some people do become dependent and some people especially some professionals encourage dependency, I don’t agree with that, but it is not inevitable.
Ron, I have found, as a so-called consumer of MH services, that a very good therapist is so hard to find that for most, it’s nearly impossible. Those who are on a low income or on dis-ability who are forced into poverty usually have no choice in therapists or do not get one at all. I found, as did others, that finding one that had any clue of what they were doing with ED patients was next to impossible. Your chances of finding one at an agency that takes public assistance insurance is next to nil.
In some states, the combination of Medicaid AND Medicare will cause a worsening of all sorts of care. Providers find the paperwork exhausting and many will not do it. Even after filling out the forms, they are often refused. This isn’t true in all states. Do you, as a provider, take Welfare-type insurances? I assume you have a sliding scale…but when I was on dis-ability, even $60 a session was much, much more than I could afford. I’m surprised at the providers that do not even realize this! Welfare recipients struggle to pay a $5 copay!
I have confronted therapists on their insanely high fees, and guess what invariably happens? They do not want to talk to me anymore. I’m dismissed as yet one more poor person they do not want to deal with. Even now, when I see something that, in my opinion, is way overpriced, even if I can afford it now, I will not buy the product or service. Let that be the complaint statement.
When I finished life coach training, I convened with other grads of the program who scoffed at me for lowering my fees. The message was very clear. “We don’t even want to serve those poor people.” There you have it. I was so disgusted with their attitude that I closed my business.
How many therapists in the USA are not in the business of insulting people with a diagnosis? Very few. You may not, but most therapists, sadly, do. Most therapists will insult you further by telling you you have some inner problem, such as “poor coping,” when really, the problem is totally external or physical.
Hi Julie, I think Oregon, maybe especially Eugene, may be a better place to be poor and looking for a therapist. I for example work mostly in a non-profit agency that sees mostly people on Medicaid, some on Medicare. People on Medicaid don’t have to pay anything themselves. We do have to diagnose people with something, but we try not to diagnose people with anything they find unacceptable, and most of us at least don’t believe that diagnosis is useful beyond putting people in a category so the insurance company can make sense of it (one of the cofounders of the agency has openly compared the DSM with the Malleus Maleficarum, the book that was used to determine who was a witch.)
One other thing: as a therapist I try not to tell people what their problem is – the idea instead is to explore what’s going on together, and see what the possible avenues for change might be. But if people don’t have the ability to change their external situation (however problematic), then we usually do end up exploring what they might change about themselves, either how they see things or how they behave or both. Because I think as humans few of our problems are “all external” – we have to decide how to respond to our situation, and we seldom find the perfect response right off the bat. It takes experimentation, and what is needed changes over time. People come to therapy usually because they want to find better ways of responding to their situation. And one possible response of course is working to get into a better situation, where that is possible!
Ron, my experience with even the best of therapists (or ones that claim they’re great) is the nearsightedness of most of these professionals. Not all, but many. Many have no clue just how bad therapy can be. Maybe Eugene is an exception. In Boston, I could not find a suitable therapist at all. I looked for about two years after I fired the one who was narcissistic. I did find one who did not believe in diagnosis, but I ran away very fast when he asked me out on a date. I met one who was unlicensed and also had no training. She had a business degree. I think she would have been better than average. However, she handed me a paper that I had to sign saying if I got into bad shape she would ditch me. She never told me she was unlicensed, either. I found out and never saw her again. I figured my all-holy psychiatrist wouldn’t approve.
In two years of calling around, placing about 200 calls at least, I found no one at all! Most refused me when they found out I had ED, or when they found out I was so-called “disabled” and did not have enough money to pay them. A few offered a sliding scale but the lowest they could go was $60. I would say that 200 calls is plenty enough to know that such therapists are rare indeed. My so-called “health plan” had no therapists on staff who had any knowledge of ED. I called and complained and they claimed they would find someone for me. A month later they called said they were having trouble getting anyone on board. Then, I guess they forgot. By then, I was sure I would never see one again.
I have, since then, had sample sessions with therapists. I did not say my prior diagnoses unless I was sure the therapist didn’t take diagnoses seriously. I was stupid enough to tell one life coach (a trauma one) about my abuse experiences while inpatient. She insisted on knowing my diagnoses and I was doubly stupid to tell her. She immediately refused to see me and said I needed “therapy” three times a week. For that, she got a bad Yelp review.
Of the others, three of these told me I didn’t need therapy at all. One told me I needed an attorney. One told me I might benefit from career coaching, not therapy. Of course, I hang onto these lovely statements even though I really do not validate the expertise of “therapists.”
The last one was the best. He spent a long time with me, questioned everything I said (not in a condescending manner at all!) and then, very clearly stated that I was doing fine and again, really do not need “therapy.” Interestingly, back when I was a patient years ago, I was desperate to talk to some nice, understanding person. Now, that desperation is simply not there.
Ron, here’s a link that might interest you on how hard it is to find a therapist: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-05-16/insurance-covers-mental-health-but-good-luck-using-it
That article doesn’t even mention public assistance, btw. I found that in my feed just now.
Ron, I often question my own ability – as a friend – to keep my friends from being dependant upon me.
Certainly, when they call or text, they are in distress, and by the time we’re done, they’ve settled, have a plan of action, and feel better.
But I keep asking myself: how can they do this for themselves, without me?
Is it cruel to say “solve it yourself?” Or “talk to your therapist tomorrow?” Or is it kind to show them the way? And hope without hope that next time, they will reach for the answers alone, and without my assistance?
There is a middle ground between solving a problem for someone and leaving them to solve it for themselves, and that is to collaborate with them in solving the problem, but encourage them to do the part of the problem solving that they are able to do, and teach them the rest as you go. So instead of rushing in with the solution, you ask them to get going on solving it, then only when they get stuck you maybe help out a bit, but also with an eye to helping them learn how to get to their own solution next time.
I would definitely agree with those who would say the more we can get people solving their own problems without the help of therapists, the better! But I would still suggest having therapists available for when that isn’t happening.
The fly in that ointment is how one decides which person is qualified to be a therapist. I personally think the only measure of success is the experience of the client in meeting his/her own goals during the process. At this point, unfortunately, it appears that “Caveat Emptor” is the rule of the day.
“people can become afraid to leave their home” you wrote. I wonder about this.
Go back in time and how many homes had heating , running water to drink and a toilet to use? Before modern times you had to go out to chop wood for the fire or get coal for the furnace. You had to go outside to the well to get drinking water. You had to go outside to use the outhouse.
Change your “tribe” and how many humans were nomadic? living in tents.
Heh, why is there right away emphasis put on what you would call a “symptoms” and then you yourself start catastrophizing!?
“Take fear for example. In many ways it’s a great emotion to have, it can save our lives, push us to avoid danger. But people can get in huge trouble with it, when fear is overgrown people can become afraid to leave their home, afraid to interact with other people, their lives can be ruined.”
Is a society where someone who starts behaving in the manner of staying at home, and it’s NOT seen as some disease to be alarmed at, is this alright!?
Do you know what it does to someone who simply stays at home because of [what YOU say] fear [which you then catastrophize about], to then have people respond in such a fashion, when perhaps they don’t even know why they stay at home? If they could ever simply understand why their subconscious, their unconscious had such imperative to stay at home and what it expressed so that they could understand it, to have someone make it out to be some dangerous thing that could ruin their life IS NOT going to help them to understand their unconscious, to be able to move on if the like. And nit picking at something that is supposed to ruin their lives, while they don’t take part in a society that is based on what it’s based on, and that isn’t even mentioned but irrational “fear” is!? Excuse me while I don’t take up a weapon (along with an arsenal of mass destruction capabilities) because I’m the good guy to kill the enemy, or lock people up in jail, or be part of an economy that’s causing global warming, or a religion that says everyone else will go to hell, or part of a for profit health system that suppresses what maintains health but doesn’t sell in the economy already mentioned (including “mental” health which I supposedly lacking)…
And the unconscious IS NOT society, and was there before “society” ever formed itself, it’s not about limitations, it’s about potential and creativity. It isn’t at all balancing out one thing with another to label something as a danger, something that could become a motif for personal development that might change a person’s life to grow where their potential lies. In fact it’s labeling it a danger what creates illusion and brings things out of balance.
Emily Dickinson in this day would be called agoraphobic. The reason she stayed at home? She had fallen in love with someone that wasn’t available, perhaps; and I’m sure a load of other things and “society” had just become too much to deal with (perhaps the whole schpiel, the limitations, the lack of being able to express herself in a way that she felt engaged with etc.)? But Emily then kept with her poetry, and had that instead, and that by some miracles was found and has CHANGED “society,”and shown what art can do for someone. Even whether anyone understands that consciously only seeing it as clever words, it still expresses what it does in the source that it came from. Having perhaps no one she could really talk to, she talked to that source that everyone came from, and still was and remains and is, instead. And that’s a “symptom” of “fear” that’s supposed to possibly be dangerous!?
Leave her alone!
I agree with you–assuming ED enjoyed her reclusive lifestyle. From what I have read she willingly chose it. Her sister was also considered a failure (unmarried back then) and enjoyed an active social life.
I spent one January under the covers, but the reason was not depression. I did not have adequate heat in my home and every time I went out I ended up with chilblains on my toes. I finally managed to find a pair of warmer boots that made a huge difference. The supposed “depression” immediately disappeared once I could afford a kerosene heater.
Oh my, really? Promoting supporting a little fear as meritorious?
Hello Ron? Isn’t Fear, like Love, trust, any quality of emotional clothing, simply a choice? What is one concerned, afraid, might result if one simplified the dynamic?
Are note all choices of emotional clothing, simply self supported by ones free choice of beliefs? the quality and existence of, entirely an expression of ones freedom of choice, or Volitional Consciousness imho?
What are you freely choosing to hold, belief wise, about the simplicity of the dynamic of emotionalizing and behavior? Is it not simply a natural result of the quality of beliefs by which one relies upon to participate, relate oneself to the stimuli? (Sharing on my many forums focused on facilitating awareness and embrace of this gift)
Larry, I’m having a hard time following what you are saying.
Are you trying to say for example that you think I’m wrong to propose that feeling fear, or being organized by the emotion of fear, can sometimes be helpful?
And then, whether or not we agree that fear can sometimes be helpful or not, it seems you are asserting that people can just freely choose what to feel by altering their beliefs? While I would agree that beliefs do influence emotion, the process of changing beliefs is not so straightforward. For example I might know that I could feel more content if I could believe that our society is headed toward a completely wonderful future, but then find I have a hard time believing that is true.
I think a lot of people feel fear for example, and would like to choose not to feel it, or not to feel so much, and have no idea of how to go about making such a change. Or they try, and what they try actually makes it worse. So it often isn’t simple.
Its only ‘not simple’ , for lack of competent therapy, in facilitating a client to experience and believe themselves safe enough, not judged, to explore, discover their freedom and accept their options of beliefs one holds and uses to operate oneself emotionally, behavorily.
Too many so called therapists believe they are the expert and not facilitating clients to explore develope their own expertise and freedom of choices. Fearful imagenings only serve to maintain their distress. imho
It’s not the feelings which are choices.
The feelings are like weather – they come, they go.
It’s your response to the feelings that is the choice.
If you think you can stop or change feelings, you are in for trouble.
Your article was very thought provoking. Thanks.
Yes, let’s start helping one another. During the Woodstock era, we were all brothers and sisters one. Help was abundant.
George Bernard Shaw said that professionalism is the bane of society. I mostly agree.
I think the peer support movement is headed in a good direction for helping. But it is becoming coopted by the medical corporation with lived experiencers needing work and bending ethics to get a job.
What if public education included learning empathetic listening, and etc?
We got to stop debating with Psychotherapists, Psychiatrists, and Drug Researchers. We’ve got to come up with a slate of positions and an agenda of actions.
Right here, all in this video, not the supposed bullshit “mental illness” excuse, but the othering and denigration at the hands of his father. What else may be there is something I ponder.
Malignant narcissism isn’t a mental illness. It’s a personality-style, a tendency to construct grandiose victim-status and vengefulness against perceived narcissistic injuries. Here you’re playing the armchair shaming psychotherapist, placing the atrocities of Rodger squarely on his father, whose probably only fault was pursuing a career at the expense of being present for his son.
Psychiatry doesn’t depict personality disorder as a mental illness. Although as we all know, it’s often quite happy to drug the individual with personality problems.
In my experience, narcissists — many of whom are probably acquired situational narcissists — do very well in the mental health system, partly because we are culturally led on to equate fame with expertise. And they exploit that ruthlessly, unsurprisingly.
If I was to play the armchair psychobabbler, I’d guess that Rodger was a repressed homosexual, and the tragedy there was his inability to come to terms with that. He does, after all, describe in his manifesto the “trauma” of seeing heterosexual sex, and an adult female vagina, and spurns the advances of obtainable females, such that he can go on with his sense of persecution and rejection.
His father is flawed, his mother is flawed. So is everyone. Choosing to go on a spree killing is entirely the choice of the malignant narcissist/psychopath… it’s just a shame that he couldn’t have been identified sooner, and all tragedy perhaps averted.
Just to add that I am not equating repressed homosexuality with spree killing, generally. An old friend of mine spent 15 years in a marriage, had 3 kids, and was utterly miserable, but did well by his wife, and his children, and did his best to come out for them as gently as he could, although the whole experience was tragic.
Only there are complex issues. Rodger was overly-mothered, under-fathered, bullied and hung up about his short stature. He comes across as quite effeminate, and time and time again, people were kind to him, even people that he had previously been bullied by, and despite everything, a life coach that tried to encourage him into work (he lasted 3 hours as he considered manual work beneath him) and friends who offered him homely and humble wisdoms. But he chose a trajectory, a narcissistic trajectory, and no-one is accountable for those choices other than himself.
Peter othered his son Elliot, made him into the family scapegoat. And that they were sending him to a psychotherapist, is by itself highly suggestive of this. Said therapist will help with nothing, he just backs up the parents.
To get justice Elliot would have needed a lawyer, not a therapist.
Elliot listened to stupid misogynist sources, and he believed them, and the rest is history.
Psychotherapy is based entirely on lies, the lie that you do not have to fight for justice and restore your social and civil standing. Psychotherapy backs up the abusers.
So it makes things worse, not better. And we see where this went.
He shouldn’t have gone on a murderous rampage.
Interesting they call him a “madman.” He was mad–or angry at the loneliness and rejection he kept experiencing.
Eliot Rogers could have used some help. Not from being locked up and tortured but simply someone willing to reach out to him with compassion. One true friend might have made the difference. 🙁
A lawyer, and comrades fighting for justice. But absolutely not a psychotherapist. Said therapist will never do anything to help the objective circumstances of a person’s life.
Only lawyers and comrades on the barricades will do that.
I am hoping that in Eve Ensler, somewhere in her writtings that she must have come to the same conclusions.
And thanks to CatNight for some info about her.
Rachel, I am glad you have not allowed yourself to be fodder for Psychotherapy, in many years.
And of course I can tell the difference between a friend and a psychotherapist.
When it comes to Elliot Rodger, I would say that his life still revolved around the control of his parents, and especially his father Peter. So any potential friendships, or intimate relationships, would be subordinated to his attempts to manage his standing in the eyes of his father.
So again, what he would have to have first is a lawyer, and political activists, because they are the people who could penalize his father, and hence restore Elliot’s personhood.
Whereas a therapist would tell him that the problem in in his head and that it is morally superior not to ever attempt to penalize perpetrators or restore his social and civil standing. If the therapist did not believe this, they would not be able to continue to practice therapy.
There are a few of these high profile rampage shooters which have really shaken people up and challenged present understanding. Elliot Rodger is one of them, I think because of his manifesto and his introduction the term “Incel” in to public consciousness.
Another is Adam Lanza at Sandyhook. He was in his early 20’s, and he was shooting 8 yo’s. But the first thing he did that morning was to kill his mother, and so in this I am sure one will find the answer.
The other, as I see it, was Columbine Colorado. Mostly it shook people up because there were two of them, and hence this challenges the lone nut psychopath narrative. Not sure if these two really had any articulated grievance either.
I have to respectfully disagree with your assertion regarding therapists not being allowed to practice if they don’t follow the priorities you mention above. I have tons of experience with therapists, both as a part of the MH system and as an advocate for foster youth for 20 years. I can assure you that therapists are all over the place in terms of practice, and any generalization you’d like to make is not going to be accurate. Some are unwilling to give any direction at all to the client, no matter how bogged down they get, others think they know everything and constantly tell the client what to do. Some believe that everyone’s issues come from poor parenting, others believe that nothing in the past has any impact on the present. Some have people go over past traumatic events in detail, others avoid them like the plague. Some believe religiously in the DSM, others consider it ridiculously simplistic and only use it for billing purposes. Some seek to be empowering, others seek to define and solve the client’s problems for them. Some feel that sharing personal details of their lives is essential to a successful relationship, others consider any sharing a violation of “professional boundaries.” The only generalization that can be made about therapists is that there is no consistency regarding expectations or results.
I do get that the CONCEPT behind therapy suggests that fixing the person to make them more “normal” is the goal, and I of course find such a goal abhorrent. But therapy for the most part can be whatever the therapist and client make it, and some people report very positive experiences with therapists that have helped them change their lives for the better. (Though I have to admit that such reports seem to have become rarer over the decades.)
Bottom line, I think comments about the therapy industry as a whole can be reliably made, but generalizations about what would happen to a particular therapist if they didn’t toe some imaginary party line do not line up with what I’ve seen. Therapists can generally do whatever the heck they want, as long as they can bill the insurance company for their work, and as long as they don’t piss off any psychiatrists they have to answer to by threatening their label-and-drug gravy train.
Steve, thanks for your comment about the diversity of what therapists do. That matches what I’ve seen.
A couple comments though. You said the goal of being “normal” is abhorrent. I would agree with you if we were talking about trying to be “normal” overall, because that is both usually undesirable and impossible, but I do see some value in helping people figure out how to regain “normal” abilities they may have lost, or never had to start out with. So somebody might not know how to engage with random people in a friendly way, or how to experience “normal” physical affection without feeling freaked out, and they want to be able to do that. It makes sense that a therapist might join with them in working toward such a goal.
I know when I had some really different mental experiences, I often had to struggle a bit to regain “normal” kinds of things I used to be able to do. But I definitely never had the goal to overall become normal…far from it!
Also, I think it is possible to work as a therapist and still piss off psychiatrists. I’ve done quite a bit of that, and I only got fired once from a minor job. But most therapists don’t do that openly, for example lots of therapists used to tell David Oaks they agreed with his criticisms of psychiatry and would talk to their clients about the problems with drugs, but they wouldn’t speak in public. Maybe some avoid it because they are intimidated, but it seemed some were just too shy about speaking up in public in general….maybe they needed therapy for that?
I mean the goal of being “normal” as defined by the social norms promoted by our cultural system of values. It is the slavish adherence to this artificial “normalcy” and its conflict with people’s actual reality that is behind many cases of “mental illness.” This is very different from accomplishing what the client personally wants to create as their own “normal” mode of operation. What I find abhorrent is when therapists/counselors/psychiatrists define “normal” for the client and feel their job is to make them “fit in” better to society, rather than finding their own definition of “normal” that allows them to be comfortable in their own skins.
As for pissing of psychiatrists, it depends if the psychiatrist is in a position to influence your reputation or your employment potential. There are definitely situations where one’s survival as a therapist in a particular institution depends on not being too vocal about critiques of the DSM or “medication” use. I respect anyone who can operate “behind the lines” without being beaten down or giving up. You appear to have established a certain level of respect and independence that has allowed you to be a maverick with limited consequences, but that takes time and skill to develop, and for some, it appears to be beyond their capacity. Working in a psychiatric institution or one controlled by psychiatric thinking can be extremely oppressive toward the workers as well. It takes a lot of courage not to pass on that oppression to the clients.
I agree with Steve. Therapists run the gamut. Some are obviously boundary-paranoid. I can always tell! I had one who cried in front of me. She was crying over another patient. whom I did not know, who had died of cancer. What was I to do? She constantly violated HIPAA by revealing personal details about other patients. This was annoying to say the least! She made me be her therapist countless times. Why didn’t she pay me?
I had at least 20 therapists over the years. I always wondered why it wasn’t “working.” I have realized that their definition of “normal” is culturally-driven. Also, from one generation to another, “normal” changes. From one part of the country to another, from one neighborhood to another, and so on.
They would talk about “baseline.” After I’d been only a few years in the System they were clueless about what “baseline” really was for me. Also, one’s baseline can’t possibly exist, since it’s not this fixed entity, but always changing and evolving. Even so, they wildly underestimated me for decades.
I never really thought about it, but you’re right, the concept of “baseline” is totally bogus. It assumes a person is a fixed entity that is only temporarily impacted by life circumstances. This is rot, of course. People are always developing, and the whole idea of “therapy” ought to be to help someone move onward to their next step in life, rather than returning to some “baseline” equilibrium defined by another person.
So Rachel777, are you agreeing with Peter Rodger that Elliot suffered from Mental Illness?
And someone wiling to help, sounds like you are advocating for psychotherapy. A Psychotherapist is not going to put Peter in handcuffs. But a Dependency Court Judge could.
Elliot’s missives, the videos and the 135 page manifesto, who was his intended audience? Obviously it was his parents.
Not clear how much interest Elliot really had in girls. But he had to have that blonde bombshell on his arm, because he was looking to win the approval of his father Peter. Peter had made Elliot into the family scapegoat. And sending him to a psychotherapist was but one manifestation of that. The rest is history.
Mad is a euphemism for Mental Illness.
No, I don’t believe in mental illness. I was talking about friendship. Friendship is essential.
If you can’t tell friendship from psycho-therapy you must have it rough. I love my friends and family.
I haven’t had “therapy” in years.
Mad is a synonym for angry.
Nobody is angry all the time. So I consider myself Mad No More. Despite psychiatry’s best efforts to keep me in the role of madwoman for life.
Elliot Rodger, he was clearly a young man who was suffering.
Of course do not agree with his actions. But saying that at this point means nothing.
I don’t agree with his interpretations either.
I feel that being sent to a psychotherapist, a clear attempt to mess with his head, was part of the problem.
I’m very glad you don’t agree with killing sprees.
Rachel777, of course I don’t agree with killing sprees. But I also know that for every situation which results in a killing spree, there are 1000’s of others who are suffering in similar ways. And I know that an idea like “mental illness” only makes it worse.
And I do not agree with Elliot’s misogyny, or this concept of Incels.
But I have become certain that there were things which must have been done wrong to Elliot, to make him suffer so. Mental Health, Psychotherapy, Recovery, and Religion would not have helped.
And he had no friends or intimate partners because his social and civil standing had been so trashed. There needed to have been outside intervention on Elliot’s behalf, and to hold the perpetrators, his parents, accountable.
Where should there have been trip wires? Well, sending a juvenile to a psychotherapist, and without the parents also seeing the same therapist, I say that that should have been a matter subject to mandatory reporting and subject to court supervision, and the juvenile should have been provided with a lawyer.
As I read the comments it seems that some may be getting distracted from my main points because of not relating to the term “mad” which to some might mean believing in “mental illness” which you don’t.
I think it might then be helpful instead to think simply of being different, or especially extremely different, perhaps in ways that seem to cause problems.
When we find ourselves being different, we have to decide, do we want to try to recover from these differences, to try to be more like others so as to avoid any problems or disruption that seem associated with those differences, or do we want to accept and even be proud of our differences, and ask others to accept us as we are and to adjust to accommodate the way we are different?
To use a simple example, let’s say I am being way more fearful about an upcoming event than is most everyone else. If I think my fear is reasonable, and I think everyone else is just being overly bold, I might accept or even be proud that I am perceptive enough to have that fear, and I would want others to also accept and accommodate my fearfulness. If on the other hand I think my fearfulness is going overboard, I might try to recover from it, or to overcome it.
The key thing I am proposing is that we really need both strategies, sometimes working to change ourselves, sometimes rejecting the idea of changing, being happy with ourselves as we are. Trying to rely exclusively on just one of these strategies, and always rejecting the other, is unlikely to lead to a successful life.
Ron, I cannot find your comment that you put on my comment. When I stated that a supposedly “bad” emotion is one that makes therapists upset, I really meant not just therapists, but the entire influence the MH industry has had on the media. Therapy contributes to it by convincing people to think everything under the sun is a mental problem.
People think anger is bad. No, it’s not. It’s what you do with it. Due to rampant assumptions people make, people assume that anger automatically means the person feeling that anger is uncomfortable and it needs fixing.
I’m not at all uncomfortable with my own feelings of anger. I don’t go out hurting anyone and I don’t do self-harming behaviors. People assume I, and others, can’t handle these emotions. This is projection indeed. I’m okay with feeling angry. Yes, I can handle it and what I ultimately do with it is up to me.
That said, I’ve made mistakes. Can I be human now and then?
I had a job that badly sucked, and after that, I had to recover. How did I resolve it? By doing writing, but not just journal writing, but writing in a way that helps other people and contributes to activism.
There was, indeed, a recovery period. I had to recover from the job, and that was not easy. Is it okay to feel like crap for a little while? I think it’s fine, and human. People are oh-so-quick to rush in and try to fix something that likely shouldn’t be meddled with.
I think my comment might have disappeared for a moment, but it’s up there now right below your original comment.
I agree with you that mental and emotional problems often get exaggerated by the mental health system, but I think that if we had no mental health system that there would still be some mental and emotional problems, some of which would be extremely serious or disabling all by themselves. Certainly we are all entitled to our humanity, but part of being human means we have tricky brains and live in a tricky & often traumatizing world, and we sometimes need help, and sometimes from helpers who have to know more than the average person.
I hear what you are saying, Ron, but there is no way I’m going to agree that this person with expertise has to be a so-called mental health professional.
The person might be a drug dealer, who sees someone who has become psychotic from street drugs. A drug dealer very well knows the bad effects of street drugs.
The person might be an attorney, who can be very helpful in instances of child abuse or spousal abuse.
An endocrinologist will immediately and quickly notice if a person’s depression comes from a thyroid issue.
An optometrist will find out that disorientation and poor ability to communicate come from vision problems.
A politician, too, can help, by raising public awareness about problems such as sexual harassment, child abuse, and more.
All these folks are, as you say, “helpers who have to know more than the average person.” As I see it, therapy professionals are only one part of it. I find it scary and dangerous indeed when I start hearing therapists claim to be the only experts. I find it concerning when I hear the general public see mental health professionals that way, too. Some are insightful and wise, others are certainly not, and that’s true in all walks of life.
It is my understanding that lot of the “paraprofessionals” used by Mosher at Soteria House were people who had used hallucinogens and had experience as “trip guides.” There are many ways to learn the necessary skills to be a good helping person. And it should be very, very clear that obtaining a Masters Degree or Ph.D. is no guarantee that a person will learn these skills. It is unfortunate that the conferring of an advanced degree is assumed to indicate a minimal level of interpersonal competence when there is really no way to assure such competence by any educational approach now known.
I certainly agree that it’s bad for society when the idea is spread that only professionals can be helpful – really, effective interpersonal support is something that should be woven throughout the fabric of society. I do think though that it makes sense to have people who study how to be helpful in situations where everyday supports or unpaid supports are not working.
As for Soteria, it was a collaboration between people who did have some professional training and people who did not, professionals like Loren Mosher and Voyce Hendrix did a lot to set the frame for what was done there. Open Dialogue uses people with a high degree of training (training that is different of course from what is mostly offered in the US).
Professions can be a source of both good and bad. Professions can get corrupt, and it’s really important that they get criticized and this corruption is brought to light. I still see value in them however. They are like governments, they sometimes need to be overthrown, but then you find yourself still needing a government.
Ron, that would be great, but so many professionals aren’t helpful. I’m not saying all are unhelpful, but a great majority are. In a perfect world, all the great therapists (there are so few!) would be a majority, not a slim minority. Not only that, it wouldn’t be so hard (and expensive) to find one.
And I think the challenge for me is that the degree confers some kind of confidence in people that this person knows what they are doing. If therapists are to be licensed, there ought to be a much more practical way to do so that is based primarily on the person’s actual impact on the client(s) s/he serves, rather than how many years of education s/he may have consumed.
“People assume I, and others, can’t handle these emotions. This is projection indeed.” you wrote.
Yes they can call the anger “psychotic” instead of that the person is angry. With the person suitably diagnosed, antipsychotics can be medically administered.
Mark, I have read that a majority of anti-p prescriptions are prescribed to nonpsychotic people. Even for psychosis, they aren’t that effective and will cause horrible side effects.
Of course, some benefit. Some benefit from street drugs, too. I think there’s a lot of benefit to cigarettes, come to think of it.
If cessation of distress through early death be accounted a benefit.
I think the only reason neuro-toxins, and specifically neuroleptics, get prescribed for non-psychotic conditions is the profit motive. If they can market their drug for something else they make more money. It’s the same thing that puts opioids back on the licit drug market. You’d think after ‘opium dens’ that they’d have learned a thing or two. Okay. Not so when you can make a buck or two, multiplied by the billions, and thus enter the same game the mob is so adept at exploiting, drug pushing
Ron, people need to live true to their own life experience, and not let the/rapist tell them that they need self improvement.
“When we find ourselves being different, we have to decide, do we want to try to recover from these differences, to try to be more like others so as to avoid any problems or disruption that seem associated with those differences, or do we want to accept and even be proud of our differences, and ask others to accept us as we are and to adjust to accommodate the way we are different?”
This still presents a false dichotomy and assumes that people enter Mental Health, Inc, voluntarily or otherwise, because they are experiencing a mental health issue that is troubling to themselves or those around them. But for those of us that went to our doctors for a physical illness and left drugged to the gills with psychoactive drugs which then iotrogenically create extreme mental states, this dichotomy is fairly insulting. I am not mad, not now, nor then. That this culture pathologizes crying is another matter entirely and will lead those interested to research the causes and effects of toxic masculinity, toxic individualization, and bootstrap culture.
There is a great book recently out called Doing Harm by Maya Duysenbery, about the psychopathologization or outright dismissal of women’s physical illnesses. Since women are the drivers of mental health utilization, you might find that this information informs your opinions about who ends up being called Mad, and why some might find it a slur since we were not behaving in ways that would be described as such UNTIL we were inappropriately medicated. Some, myself included, call this for what it is: medical poisoning.
Mad Pride makes mental illness into a joke. Mental illness is a weaponized concept used to repress.
What we do not need are Psychotherapists getting people to make personal disclosures when they themselves are not committed comrades, but rather are people trying to tell people that they need to change themselves, need moral reform.
Rather than going along with “Mad Pride”, I would say,
“I am a 100% percent committed anti-mental, health anti-recovery, by any means necessary guerrilla.
Ron Unger, your stuff still makes it like there is some basis to “mental illness”. Still putting it back on the victim.
Ron, you want to keep arguing that people need their Psychotherapist because they need to change?
How about this, start referring your clients to this web site. We will make sure that their eyes are opened. And odds will be that they will change, by virtue of getting politically involved, instead of by confessing on the couch.
They also might be receptive to the argument that such therapy amounts to Transference Abuse, and so they might be interested in talking to a lawyer.
As I understand it, the mission of this website is for “re-thinking psychiatry” – not psychotherapy. It is psychiatry with unbridled authority and power and who controls with their big book of absurd, unscientific labels and their drugs. While not every psychotherapist is helpful and a misinformed or unhelpful one could exacerbate someone’s problems, the real harm and damage comes from psychiatry.
Not quite. The two are bound up together. So-called “psychotherapy” is an integral part of the overarching problem that Szasz identified as the thereapeutic state.
And Szazs practiced counseling “on consenting adults” as he described it.
A lot of therapy is brainwashing people into believing they’re defective.
Szazs decried “psycho-therapy.” My guess is he was a play it by ear counselor with methods/philosophy similar to Bruce Levine.
“A lot of therapy is brainwashing people into believing they’re defective.”
Julie, its more than just a lot of it that works that way.
It turns you awareness of injustice into a project of self-improvement, and of course this amounts to capitulation to systemic structural injustice.
Removed for moderation.
Removed for moderation.
nice blog. thanks for sharing
Removed for moderation.
Removed for moderation.
Nice piece of exploration.
There ARE so many contradictions and I think that when we begin to examine the language used it IS helpful. Otherwise we risk putting potential allies on the defense. Allies for change. Period.
And “they” risk putting us on the defense as well.
We have to be able to listen and communicate somewhere in the middle, I believe, for real change to happen.
The current standards for FEP(first episode psychosis), in the U.S. anyway, really worry me. Young folks being put on AP’s/neuroleptics/dumb adjuncts to AD’s and then never, ever, being given a chance to come off with proper guidance in tapering and/or with an understanding of withdrawal. Lives often so very limited by over-medication and for too long. Families and friends believing that their loved one is damaged and hopeless due to the media, and/or the proliferation of “diagnonsense”. That darn DSM-5 bible thing.
And oh, I loved the spiritual stuff.
And this too:
One other possibly helpful metaphor for madness is that of wilderness.
It can be disturbing when young people wander off into the wilderness. What if they become lost, and need to be rescued? Sometimes people do need to be rescued. But a society too sure that the wilderness is nothing but bad will seek to prevent young people from ever wandering off, won’t recognize when people are doing OK in their explorations and don’t need to be rescued, and/or will even seek to destroy the wilderness so that everything can be “civilized” — aka, sane.
“Not all who wander are lost”
Yah…..what does being lost mean anyway? Maybe just not being accepted? Or being different from what others expected of us? I don’t know.
Yes, change is badly needed. I think explorations like this will help.
Jiddu Krishnamurti: It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
signed: psychiatric survivor
I wondered though, if, when I used that term for myself for the first time in a mixed group of peers, offline, in person, if it was understood…..what I meant by that. I guess I just figure they will ask me if they’d like to know more about what it means to me. Some do know that I feel my healing or recovery only really began when I left the psych system and carefully finished my medication tapers. Boy was I getting sicker being “compliant” and riding the merry go round of medications.
Maybe I should say I’ve been found(no longer lost and wandering/wondering anymore ) I get to be me.
Thanks for the space. I’m practicing my words.
Hi manymore, I’m glad you are finding your voice, and you are speaking up!
It is certainly worth questioning what “being lost” as an individual means, especially when we live in a society that has overall lost its way and seems bent on destroying its own future.
But it does seem to me that some people do get lost in ways that can even be life threatening, even before any bad treatment becomes part of the picture.
Regarding “first episode psychosis” treatment, I’m not opposed to it, if it’s done well. Open Dialogue is for example an approach designed to make early intervention, they try to respond within 24 hours of an initial report. Of course, a very important part of what they do is try to hold off on using “antipsychotic” drugs. I don’t know of any early intervention programs in the US that make that attempt to hold off on using “antipsychotics” but there are some that do attempt to keep the doses low and at least some of the time will suggest that people try reducing or coming off the drugs after they have been stable for a while (this sometimes happens in Oregon for example.)
Of course this ignores the fact that there is no such thing as “first episode psychosis,” and that “treatment” is a euphemism for coercion, force, torture, drugging, involuntary incarceration and other forms of psychiatric abuse. “Early intervention” is a method of subjugating the innocent to psychiatric torture and abuse, in a sort of Minority Report style. Under this tyrannical system, a person is automatically and preemptively declared guilty with no avenues to prove his or her innocence.
There is also no such thing as an “antipsychotic.” A more appropriate name for these dangerous, brain destroying chemical compounds might be “thanatophoric drugs,” or death inducing drugs.
A novel concept that members of the psycho-pharmaceutical industrial complex ought to consider is one of the ancient definitions of justice: mind your own business.
I agree 100% with slaying.
We must stop cooperating and begin to fight back.
I believe the spiritual issue for those in crisis is how to ascend the dynamics of such a limited society. In that sense, we grow toward our own individual freedom and unlimitedness. That’s what will move society forward and how the paradigm will shift, when the burden and accountailibty go back to those who program people into believing so negatively about themselves, that they are needy, inferior, and “do not belong.” When these terribly false and damning projections are released from the masses, then, we will be free and “recovered.”
What might be an interesting construct to investigate is the character from “Alice in Wonderland.”
The Mad Hatter was based on reality. Folks who worked in military factories became irrational and endured altered states. It was eventually discovered the chemicals used in the factory process were the cause.
I find this haunting especially in our world. So much exposure so many suppressed and or uninvestigsted issues of altered mental states. Trauma is one layer but only one of many.
Psychiatry creates insanity through the drugs it tricks or forces people to take.
When I saw Dr. M at 20 I was depressed and anxious. Thanks to the Anafranil he prescribed I went 3 weeks without sleep and had a terrifying break from reality. The experience was so scary I did anything shrinks told me after that to prevent the very breakdown THEY had caused.
Gaslighting is what psychiatrists do.
Ah milinary not military but who knows?
Removed for moderation.
Removed for moderation.
Since often antipsychotics used in hospitals to make old people die faster, talking about “recovery” would be too optimistic, as well as “mad pride” on the one hand is obvious (if you have psychedelic experience), on the other hand there are really sick and misdiagnosed people. Psychiatric survivors is a correct term.
Hello Mr. Unger – I stopped reading because you were basing assumptions on the name ‘mad pride’ while treating mainstream MHC with all its diversity.
Your 1st flawed assumption is oversimplifying that one who has pride in their madness do not want change in their life – you repeated this assumption 3 times over and I wasn’t charmed by this cutting short of the ‘mad pride’-movement (of which I heard 1st and only in this article).
Your second flawed remark is writing about ‘people who hear voices’ , all the while I was having trouble controlling anger that was directed at you – we just talked about this telepathically.
I just responded quite humorously on this post https://www.madinamerica.com/2019/05/founding-member-looks-back-20-years-critical-psychiatry-network/ and tried to scare you with my wits by making a telepathic-joke with you – however for (later to be discovered) reasons I got gripped by aggression towards you but we quickly resolved the issue.
My ‘mad pride’ doesn’t think that changing the world is impossible and I only attempt to ‘please’ other people by giving their POV affirmation when I’m able to change their minds in my direction. For this I need your article but I’m scared that you will disappoint me after I’ve read it completely.
You see, for the past 5 years I’ve been suffering from ‘social psychological torture’ by society and I would rather die a horrible death than conforming to the mainstream hypnoses. Society thinks that by treating me for a mental illness they can create a better life for me but it’s the other way around, I want to awake society from the mass hypnosis they are under but I have to conclude everybody is still sleeping and are only pretending to be awake.
If we are only given a little spark of madness in our life, why should we be shamed for this by being called mentally retarded ?
friendly greetings from
Alain Bos ([email protected])
( the Ms. Unger mistake is made by a chrome-extension named “toggle patriarchy” 😉 )
My point was not that people with mad pride never want to change their lives or themselves, but rather that people don’t want to change what they have pride in. So if a person is always proud of how they do things, they won’t acknowledge (and recover from) mistakes that they make, they will be proud of them instead.
I think what people need instead is discernment, sometimes being proud of their actions and reactions even when society might call them mad, and sometimes working on recovery instead. I know that’s a little tricky to explain, it’s not a fixed answer, but it is what I think works best.
Not sure I agree with you, Ron. I think of survivors of domestic abuse – they are or should be proud that they have survived such horrific abuse and continue to lead semi-functional lives in the wake of it, even if they fully know and understand that they have to continue to work on overcoming the damage done to them. It’s possible to be proud that you came up with ways to get through something difficult while still recognizing that one’s life can be improved yet further by continuing efforts.
Hi Steve, I’m not clear on how what you are trying to say is different from what I said. I certainly never said people can’t be or shouldn’t be proud of surviving adversity of various kinds! But pride is still something to be used with caution – for example I may have survived an adverse situation by learning to be very distrustful, but if I’m too proud of my habit of distrusting people, I might never work on “recovering” from that, and starting to notice more when some people might be worthy of trusting. That’s where discernment comes in, in my opinion.
Ron, just start giving the address for this web site to your clients. What’s holding you back? Let your clients speak for themselves.
Well, I can agree with that. It seems we are pretty much agreeing with each other here.
How about pride that you survived being lied to and about? Being tricked or forced to abuse mind altering drugs under the pretext they would “correct your brain chemistry”? Possibly brain shocks, imprisonment, and poverty?
That you figured out you were being conned and managed to go off a bunch of drugs as addictive as heroine with no help at all except an online community.
Psychiatric survivor pride!
Psychiatric Survivor Pride, yes!
But that has to mean people who are fighting back, not going along with Psychotherapy, Recovery, or Salvation Seeking.
What is “mental illness”?
A question the APA has never even asked itself is “What is sanity?”
To my knowledge they have never written a profile of the ‘Mentally Healthy Ideal” they cherish. It would probably stir up controversy if they did. Each would want the MHI prototype to be an image of himself. 🙂
That’s not a tricky answer (the second part).
It’s the 1st part that tells me you haven’t observed these people long enough because they do change their attitudes over time.
It’s also quite stubborn of you (almost your own version of mad pride) to repeat your mistake after being presented with opportunities to change your assumption.
Or are you telling us you are secretly a mad-pride-guy and will show no discernment and do not want to recover ?-)
None the less, I’ll try to finish reading your article (:-)
Ron Unger, you are denigrating survivors and saying that they have to change in order to gain your approval. And what seems to embolden you into saying such things is your government issued license.
We should not be allowing our government to issue such licenses.
Pacific dawn, I do not believe Ron or truly effectively supportive therapists are at all ‘have to-ing’ or focus on approval seeking of the therapon.
I invite you to examine the usefulness of suggesting how a person resultingly emotionalizes relationship, has nothing to do with the individual.
The facts are, the individual is entirely responsible for the sense, and quality of beliefs, relationship, they create and hold, for themselves, in providing them to feel as they do. The role and focus of a competent therapon, is to support their client in trusting, not fearing, enough to discover more useful options for and by themselves.
Larry, many of these therapists take away our independence and self-reliance. They take away our trust in ourselves and foster a heavy reliance on the therapist to make our decisions for us.
To find a therapist who doesn’t do this is not an easy task and the average therapy-seeker with average insurance coverage or even worse, public insurance, isn’t going to be able to shop around. Nowadays, even in the areas where cost of living is low, out-of-pocket therapy will cost you at least $120 a session. Who can afford that? I hear that in some urban areas the cost can be $300 or more per session.
Mr. Baxtor, what you are actually confirming by your comment is that there (sadly) aren’t enough competent therapists or therapons who are truly effective & supporting.
You are in fact talking about a very slim minority of therapists otherwise the record-hall-of-psychiatry would have been filled with memorial plaques of Mental Health Hero’s.
There are a few counselors I wouldn’t mind seeing. But since they’re not affiliated with the MIS (Mental Illness System) Medicaid wouldn’t cover them.
Unless you get a decent one you’re better off without. I’ll see a clergy member instead. Or an older friend. No fee to talk to them!
We are never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy … (Seal 1991 – https://youtu.be/kA0rK6Dvpl4 )
There are so many terms to consider.
Back in the day, I was an ex-mental patient who dealt with sane chauvinists. We said that therapy was change not adjustment in a world of normalization. Then we found the word therapist was really two words, breaking it down to the/rapist.
These days I talk about people with life problems, like poverty, that often lead to mental problems–not functioning in the way one wants, and/or blocked from forming and achieving life goals.
Instead of recovery, I like transformation, but maybe this is too New Agey?
How about we allow informed people to use whatever terms they like for themselves?
I don’t care what you call me, just don’t call me late for diner.
To me Eve Ensler does not seem like someone who would go along with the internal healing, over deep social issues, basis of Psychotherapy:
I love it! Therapy is after all entirely about denial. And denial has long been identified as second rape.
Therapy is based on a central lie, that you do not need to publicly redress injustice and abuse in order to restore your public honor and identity, and that it is morally superior not to even try.
Woman goes to a police station to report that she was raped. What she hears is,
“Well, we have therapy and we have recovery programs. We even have medications. We have everything you need so that you can go on with your life, and not have to be carrying unnecessary trauma around with you. You certainly came to the right place.”
Why Children Don’t Belong in Therapy — Daniel Macker
Why I Quit Being a Therapist — Six Reasons by Daniel Mackler
Ron, people need to live true to their life experience, and not let themselves be conned into trying to appease others, or to look like others.
When Soteria started, the idea of Recovery may have been constructive. Most people then thought mental illness was real and incurable.
But today, people must be able to see that it is all just the deliberate creation of an underclass, Capitalism and the Middle-Class Family at their best, and aided by therapy, recovery, motivationalism, and the salvation industry.
Ron, your therapy clients, I assume that they have all given fully informed consent. They know about this forum, and that they are welcome to join and post here. And they know that some of us consider psychotherapy to be a scam which preys the most on the survivors of childhood abuses. And they know that some of us believe that we should stop allowing our government to issue therapy licenses. They know that some of us consider the very existence of the Mental Health System as constituting a State of War. And they know that some clients have retained attorneys whom now are suing therapists for “Transference Abuse”.
You clients, they know all of this, I assume.
This forum would be easier if it were not threaded. A ways above Steve wrote,
“I have to respectfully disagree with your assertion regarding therapists not being allowed to practice if they don’t follow the priorities you mention above.” And then said something which included, “Some believe that everyone’s issues come from poor parenting, others believe that nothing in the past has any impact on the present.”
Steve, first of all I do respect your advocacy for children in the Foster Care system, and I believe all your service as a CASA volunteer.
But I have never said that therapists should not be allowed to practice if they don’t follow my priorities. What I have said is that psychotherapy is a predatory scam and that we should not be allowing our government to issue licenses for it. This would not eradicate it, but it would deny it most of the normative authority which it currently enjoys.
And then as far as “poor parenting” I would never have said anything like that because that would legitimate parents, and child exploitation is the root problem.
Steve wrote, “I do get that the CONCEPT behind therapy suggests that fixing the person to make them more “normal” is the goal, and I of course find such a goal abhorrent.”
Well of course I agree with this, but I also see the problem as more serious.
Steve also wrote, “Bottom line, I think comments about the therapy industry as a whole can be reliably made, but generalizations about what would happen to a particular therapist if they didn’t toe some imaginary party line do not line up with what I’ve seen.”
I have never suggested any party line or consequences. I have simply said that we should not be allowing our government to issue any licenses for Psychotherapy or Psychiatry. As far as lawsuits against psychotherapists, those have to be decided one by one by judges and juries. And as an anti-therapy activist, I am not in the jury pool.
As far as what I think about psychotherapy, and considering what you have written, the basic problem is that the therapist is presenting themselves as your friend and comrade, when in fact they can never be anything of the sort. Rather they are loyal to their profession, and in general to compliance with social norms and laws. So you will have a client disclosing their most personal things, not because you have demonstrated yourself to be a comrade out on the barricades, but because they are taken in by the therapists demeanor and diplomas and licenses on the wall.
I am not saying that this can be completely eradicated, as adults can consent to talk to each other.
I am simply saying that we must not allow our government to issue such licenses, and that is important to educate people that psychotherapy is a scam, one which covers up gross social injustice.
After Steve’s post above, Ron Unger posted, “So somebody might not know how to engage with random people in a friendly way…”
Again, people learn when they are striking out, on the barricades, and they learn from Comrades, not from those who want to have power over them in order to perpetuate their own denial systems.
And then after Ron, Steve posted,”I mean the goal of being “normal” as defined by the social norms promoted by our cultural system of values. It is the slavish adherence to this artificial “normalcy” and its conflict with people’s actual reality that is behind many cases of “mental illness.” ”
Our entire society is based on this artificial normality, and it comes from Capitalism and the Middle-Class Family, as these are the two side of the Self-Reliance coin.
For someone who is no longer part of this, they need to find political consciousness. They have their best chances when they find comrades on the barricades.
And then Julie posted, “I agree with Steve. Therapists run the gamut. Some are obviously boundary-paranoid.”
Well what I would say is universal about therapists is that they are not attacking normalcy. They are getting people to disclose personal things, but they do nothing to redress injustice. Rather, they turn you experience of injustice into a medical problem and into a self-improvement project.
I am only insisting on the de-licensing of psychotherapy, not on any attempts at completely outlawing it.
One of the most basic rules of living in this world, of just being a living thing is, you don’t let people mess with you. You don’t let people attack your basic legitimacy. Beyond a point you have to strike back, no matter what the costs and no matter what the risks and consequences.
Now we have Capitalism and the Middle-Class Family, and these operate by psychically scaring and maiming children. Most of the time there is no way to strike back. But then eventually a child will realize what is happening and not allow such anymore.
But then enter the Psychotherapist, and the Psychiatry, and the Recovery Group, and they try to tell you that your experience of distress and alienation is really your own doing. There may have been external triggers, but as of now, the solution resides between your own two ears, and in your willingness to accept instruction from your therapist.
Well, the basic rules of being alive say that you do no allow this at all.
So why do some allow it? Its because they are still seeking approval from their abuser parents, and because our legal system is not very good at providing for redress, and because an entire industry has grown up to target such vulnerable persons. And it is because those of us who have survived such attacks on our legitimacy are only just now starting to act to prevent more survivors from being abused.
The road to redress is going to be long and hard, and we have a massive created underclass. But I believe that all such targeting and scapegoating, and the industries which promote it can be eliminated.
I 4 1 gratefully appreciate your comments and would love to have conversations with you, even if it is just by email (I live in the Netherlands and your comment about judges & juries suggests you live in the US, so meeting IRL will not be an option).
You can reach me @ anti-psychiatrie at outlook dot com (yes with an ie because anti-psychiatry was already taken and this ‘ie’ is the dutch spelling too).
I hope to hear from you !