How I Became Boo Radley: Surviving College, Suicide, and Psychiatry

Bowen Cho
48
2020

On an August night in 2019, Elijah McClain was walking home alone from the convenience store when a bystander on the street called 911, reporting that he “looked suspicious.” Elijah was stopped by the police and never made it home. As he pleaded for compassion and understanding, some of his last words were: “I’m an introvert. I’m just different.”

My story begins a little over three years ago when, as a student at Columbia University, I believe that I was a victim of racial and criminal profiling on campus. These incidents occurred frequently, and although I never suffered physical brutality, they cumulatively eroded my sense of identity and my certainty that how I am perceived on the outside matches who I am on the inside. Trying to raise my voice about the profiling eventually led to harassment and surveillance by law enforcement, and what made it harder to bear is that nobody would listen to or believe me. Today I am a shell of my former self, but I am still here and recovering.

This essay is dedicated to Elijah McClain and all those who identify as different and have been punished for it.

An Education in Intimidation

Prior to arriving at Columbia as a second-B.A. candidate, I was a promising Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science at Stony Brook University. I had left that program after raising concerns over a cheating ring organized by some of the upper-level grad students. Although the cheating was arguably not of a serious nature—the students were merely sharing past exams on the sly—the culture of secrecy and the subversive way the ring leaders recruited students seemed contrary to the transparency that was foundational to my then-rosy view of academic culture. When I asked the Ombud for advice, she told me to seek psychological counseling. I didn’t receive much support from the department, who turned a blind eye to the bullying I experienced from other students, so I decided to leave. I’ve never spoken publicly about this before, as I respect the department and still have a good relationship with my former advisor, but in telling my story, it’s important that I acknowledge the events that have deeply affected me and brought me to where I am today.

Disillusioned but not defeated, I decided to use my GI Bill benefits to change fields and pursue a second B.A. in environmental biology at Columbia. A bit whimsical by nature, I was optimistic and thought I could make a fresh start. But a few days into my first semester on campus, I had a strange encounter with a public-safety officer. I had entered the building where one of my classes was being held and was using the restroom, which was to the immediate right of the street entrance. I was the only person in the restroom when I went in, but as I was washing my hands, I looked up into the mirror and noticed a public-safety officer standing behind me with his arms crossed and a severe look on his face. Was I not supposed to be in here? I wondered to myself. A little shaken, I went to my class without saying anything and didn’t think anything more of it.

There would be similar interactions with public-safety officers throughout the rest of the year, and I began to imagine all sorts of reasons why this was happening. I wondered if Stony Brook had flagged me as a whistleblower and passed that information on to the administration at Columbia. I worried whether, as an introvert and someone who also identified as mentally ill, people thought I was a potential shooter. I decided to stop carrying my military-style backpack to school, wondering if this memento from my four years of service in the U.S. Army made me seem suspicious. When nothing changed, I stopped carrying my laptop to school as well, as it is an old, hulking 2010 model from the era when 17-inch desktop replacements were the thing. Could it have been mistaken for a weapon?

The incidents didn’t stop.

Looking back on my pathetic and futile attempts not to draw attention to myself, I’m reminded of news stories about city kids caught in the crossfires of rival gangs during the 1990s. They could be shot while walking down the street simply for wearing the wrong colors. The situation got so dire that kids started wearing clown costumes in order to send the clearest, most reliable signals that they didn’t belong to a gang. From this story, I recognized the ridiculousness of my own situation, but I felt powerless to change it, as there was nothing I could do to look “normal.” Yet I wasn’t about to revert to my teenage self and dye my hair purple again as a proud declaration and acceptance of my inability to belong. Instead, I became increasingly withdrawn. I stopped going to classes.

Learning to Navigate the World

Cynics and folk psychologists alike will wonder at this point in the story, “Well, where did these negative thoughts come from?” Perhaps from an inner self-loathing or anger at the world? Well, no.

When I was 17, I almost flunked my senior year in high school. I was depressed and anxious and would frequently miss class because of oversleeping. Exasperated, my mom finally set me up with a cognitive-behavioral therapist who specialized in treating anxiety disorders. When I finally received my diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder, I felt relief that there was a name for whatever it was I had. I began to understand that a lot of my anxiety stemmed from childhood experiences with racial discrimination and microaggressions. For example, people would unexpectedly yell at me to “go back to China” as I passed them on the street (even though I’m of Korean descent). I learned over many years to cope with my social anxiety by respecting my boundaries, avoiding certain places and situations where people were likely to be hostile and intolerant.

But I also realized that by moving cautiously through the world, I could push myself just enough to achieve new goals. Two years after graduating with my first B.A., I enlisted in the Army as a combat medic. Although I was initially a fish out of water (very much an understatement), I finished my four years of service with honor and a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan under my belt. I knew there was a lot I could accomplish still, and despite the struggles and setbacks in my life, I liked the person I had become.

The Hardest Year of My Life

Following my first year at Columbia, on a late August day, my life changed forever when my cat, Klimky, was diagnosed with a form of stomach cancer. She rapidly declined after that visit to the veterinarian. About two weeks later, the veterinarian suggested I bring her in for a steroid injection, but at the office she insisted that Klimky be euthanized immediately, even though I kept saying that I was uncomfortable and wasn’t ready to make that decision. When I said I wanted to come back another day, she said “No. I don’t think that’s a good idea.” She wouldn’t relent, and I was coerced into making the worst decision of my life. Intellectually, I know it can be hard to be assertive over those in positions of authority, especially when we are at our most vulnerable, but to this day, I feel that I let Klimky down, as I promised I would always protect her. At 15 years of age, she had always been my best friend and my source of strength and motivation for most of my adult life.

The author’s cat, Klimky

After Klimky died, I began to see the world differently. I viewed it as a mostly bad place where people abuse their power and authority and where the weak and vulnerable are preyed upon, and I desperately wanted to escape this hell. I started thinking about plans to kill myself, but I knew I needed help to stay alive for a bit longer, if only to take care of my other cat, Ilia, who had hyperthyroidism and just a few more years to live.

I checked in at the campus counseling center, and the first psychologist I met with immediately advised me to take a medical leave, telling me how much people like me hurt the community. I was vulnerable, but I recognized the strong-arm tactics, having been coerced just a few days earlier at the vet’s. I knew that taking classes would help me to survive, as studying is one of my passions. So I requested to see a different therapist and kept regular psychotherapy and psychiatric appointments for the remainder of the semester.

I made it through, but I never forgot the soul-crushing feeling when they tried to make me disappear, as if to keep society safe from “people like me.” I think about the other students, younger and more impressionable, who go to the counseling center thinking they will get help, only to be told that they are the problem. There have been many such students over the years, and some have never come back.

Becoming Boo Radley

Despite my distress, I was never disruptive in any of my classes and my behavior never gave any cause for people to consider me a threat. Self-conscious of the fact that the administration wanted me disappeared, I tried to be invisible as much as possible. I once asked my academic advisor if my quietness disturbed my professors, and he confirmed that none of them had ever raised any concerns. Still, the incidents with campus security continued, including one time when a public-safety officer followed me in the elevator up to counseling services, leaving only after I checked in at the front desk. I never told my therapist about the profiling on campus because I knew he wouldn’t believe me. Moreover, I knew the clinicians would likely think I was paranoid–i.e., psychotic.

At this point, I should mention that my story is different from many here in that although I have a long history of mental health struggles, my parents are both practicing medical doctors. My father is a psychiatrist, and both he and my mother are extremely distrustful of our healthcare system. They raised me to develop a deep respect for and skepticism about pharmaceuticals. So it was my parents who often prescribed my medication, and just enough to help me get through the worst days.

In this context, my psychiatrist at the campus counseling center initially respected my decision not to take any medication, although we ended up trying several SSRIs, none of which I found helpful. Over the next several months, the #MeToo movement built momentum, and I felt empowered by other people standing up to systems of oppression and abuse. I decided that I didn’t need to accept the harassment from public safety anymore and went to see someone at the Ombuds office to complain. After a lengthy conversation, they told me that “I was the only one who ever reported this kind of thing.” Realizing that the administration wasn’t going to be helpful, I decided to submit my story to the school newspaper, but they only stonewalled about publishing it and eventually stopped responding to my emails.

Hospitalization

After the death of my other cat, Ilia, just over a year ago, I made two successive suicide attempts. Without getting into details, it’s enough to say that it’s a miracle I survived. I called my father, who was at work at the time, and asked him to come home. He knew from my voice that something was wrong and returned immediately. I told him what had happened, and agreed to go to the hospital.

I was admitted to an inpatient unit in Westchester, where I stayed for more than five weeks. During this time, the doctors couldn’t determine whether to diagnose me as borderline or psychotic. They initially tried to put me on lithium, which I only agreed to take because they said there was a small chance that it could kill me. When I couldn’t tolerate the nausea the lithium caused, they tried several antipsychotics, which my body also rejected. One antipsychotic made my brain feel like it was being twisted and run through a wringer. After the drugs failed, they recommended ECT, which I refused because I didn’t want to lose the memories of my cats. I told my hospital psychiatrist that I felt like Boo Radley in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird expecting a sympathetic response. Instead, I remember him sneering, “Well, it’s interesting you say that since he ended up doing some bad things.”

While I was in the hospital, I learned that back on campus, a black student had reported being followed by public-safety officers and then assaulted when he refused to show his ID upon entering a building. Other students of color started to come forward with similar experiences. The hospital finally determined that I was non-compliant and there was nothing they could do for me, so they discharged me with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, undetermined personality disorder, and delusional disorder. About two weeks later, I made another suicide attempt by attempting to overdose on fentanyl, which I had acquired from one of my roommates at the hospital, who was a drug dealer. I voluntarily admitted myself to another hospital in the city, and when I told one of the psychiatrists—a resident who couldn’t have been over 30—about being followed on campus, he replied reassuringly, “Well, we know that happens.” He was Asian.

Mental Illness as Dissent

After my second discharge, with the support of my treatment team, I decided to return to Columbia. However, I now started having frequent encounters with the NYPD. One time, I was leaving a therapist’s appointment on campus and heading back to my apartment when suddenly, a police officer started running up to me from behind, stomping the ground with heavy footsteps as if he wanted me to hear him approaching, trying to provoke a flight response. Since I didn’t react, however, he stopped running just a few feet in front of me and then walked away on the empty street. Further down the block, a police car waiting at the corner turned away.

According to Jim van Os, a world-renowned professor of psychiatry, 30 percent of the population during their lifetime will experience psychosis, which he defines as distortions in our interpretations of random events that can cause us to see threats and attach meaning to stimuli that are otherwise neutral. Given this perspective, it’s arguable that I was experiencing psychosis even though the events I describe are real. I certainly became paranoid. But then, what is the proper and normal response to being profiled and surveilled?

These days, I often discuss with my therapist my anxiety about people’s perceptions that “the mentally ill” are violent. The media and its pundits almost always describe perpetrators of mass shootings using code words: “quiet,” “shy,” “loner”—words that describe me—if not explicitly attributing them to clinically meaningless labels of “mental illness.” In an editorial published by Columbia’s student newspaper, the authors accused students in mental distress of bringing down the rest of the community, implying that we need to be isolated. This argument is eerily similar to those in favor of using force to quash dissent, labeling protesters as divisive and a threat to civility. Is it a coincidence that people with mental-illness labels are often the most vocal opponents of systemic discrimination, harassment, and other abuse?

Being Different Is Not a Crime

It’s important during this time of national reckoning that we center the voices and experiences of Black and Indigenous people. In telling my story, as an Asian American, I’m not trying to detract our focus from the extreme pain and suffering in the Black and Indigenous communities. Although I’ve never experienced the levels of systemic racism and brutality that they have endured for too long in our nation, the events of the past three years have helped me develop more than an intellectual understanding of the racial terror inflicted upon them. I now understand at a visceral level how the constant surveillance, profiling, and gaslighting can damage the psyche and make one feel less than human—although we shouldn’t need to be victims ourselves in order to be partners in the fight against racial injustice.

It’s remarkable to reflect how I came away from my military deployment relatively unscathed, but now suffer with post-traumatic stress from my experience on a college campus. In retrospect, I can understand, without condoning, why I was being profiled. On campus, I tried to mitigate my social anxiety by avoiding crowded spaces and taking the most circuitous routes to classes by, for example, going around the main college walk and using back or side entrances. Paradoxically, in trying to remain invisible, I probably drew unwanted attention to myself. Earlier this year, I filed a complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, but after apologizing for what I had been through, the attorney simply told me that law enforcement are within their legal rights to target people who look suspicious.

Elijah McClain was viewed as a “potentially bad person” because he was wearing a ski mask and dancing while walking home alone at night. There is a growing tendency in society to view all forms of atypical behavior as threatening, as pathology, as mental illness. Civil rights advocates have noted that the real effect of policies like stop-and-frisk and “see something, say something” campaigns are not to reduce crime, but to increase the targeting of marginalized individuals, which sends a clear message that certain groups are not welcome in the community.

Our fast, technology-driven society increasingly demands that everyone conform to an ever more rigid, narrow standard of normality. This tendency towards authoritarianism is exacerbated by the prevalent misconception that every deviation from normal has a quick medical fix. These days, discussion of mental illness regularly centers the pain and suffering of the families and communities affected by people with mental illness labels rather than the individuals who live with that struggle. But just as abolitionists ask us to focus criminal-justice reform at the level of societal accountability, so too must psychiatry remove the undue burden on neurodivergent individuals whose needs are not being met and whose voices are not being heard.

Elijah McClain’s cries for compassion and understanding were not in vain and can no longer be ignored.

 

 

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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.

48 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for sharing your story and for your service. You would think that a university like Columbia, with its reputation as a bastion of intelligence and cultural sophistication, wouldn’t be so provincial.

    I am so sorry for all that you went through. I hope for your healing and a bright future.

    Grief can take forever to deal with, but time can make it a little more manageable. The death of your best friend can shake your whole foundation, and turn you whole world upside-down. I am so sorry for your losses.

  2. I’m careful around people, but then with my cat it’s all warmth and being close. I grew up with parents who discouraged conversation, so I think that’s where I got my mental parts that make those feelings. I’ve never had any encounters with any kind of police like that. I don’t see why they can’t at least say something to let a person know what they are doing or thinking. It’s just sort of intimidation. Very unprofessional. I was also in the army for a couple of years way back during the Vietnam war period, but I spent my time in Denver.

  3. Thank you for your service in the military, Bowen Cho, my cousin’s son is also a medic.

    I’m so sorry that you were subjected to discrimination, especially by police officers, and a university. I agree, that is very unprofessional, no doubt was legitimately disturbing to you, and such behavior is likely appalling to all of us here at MiA. Since we here at MiA all tend to believe in the importance of spreading scientific truth, and in the mutual respect of all people. Mutual respect of all, being a concept about which too many “mental health” workers, were seemingly trained to do the opposite.

    My condolences on the death of your pretty kitty, Klimky. I’ve been out of town working for the past couple weeks, I just got home tonight. And, my oh my, did I get kitty loving upon my return! I had no idea how loving cats could be, until I got my current cat. Cats can be such wonderfully loving animals.

    You mentioned your father was a psychiatrist. I’m just curious, what has been his reaction to your adverse effects of the psychiatric drugs, psychiatric “care” in general, and writing your story on this website?

    I agree, Elijah McClain’s story is a very sad one. But I must say as a white person, that psychiatry’s discriminatory practices do discriminate both ways, since it was mostly “non-white” doctors who discriminated, defamed, neurotoxic poisoned, and literally attempted to murder me. And sadly, only one of those former doctors has been convicted by the FBI, and that was for systemically harming God knows how many other innocent people, for profit.

    Thus, I do agree, psychiatry must “remove the undue burden on neurodivergent individuals whose needs are not being met and whose voices are not being heard.” As well as stop targeting the artists, merely because we’re working on our portfolios. Thus many “mental health” workers incorrectly assume we are “unemployed” and “w/o work, content, and talent.”

    But I do have hope that the artists – who’ve seemingly systemically also been targeted by the “mental health” industry – I hope their stories will some day fill the art history and literary books. Since I know my artwork now turns certain “mental health professionals” – who know something about art – into paranoid lunatics, who want to steal from me, since previous “mental health” workers did not succeed in killing me, to cover up the abuse of my child for the ELCA religion.

    “A picture paints a thousand words,” thus an entire portfolio paints an “insightful,” “work of smart female,” “prophetic,” and compellingly “too truthful” story about the systemic crimes of today’s “mental health” industry. Perhaps it’s time for our “mental health” workers, and police, to garner insight into the benefits of living in a society that values the mutual respect of all it’s citizens?

    And America should return to being a land governed by the rule of law. Rather than continue being a tyranny run by the bailout needing, never ending war mongering and profiteering globalist banksters, and their scientific fraud based, “omnipotent moral busy body,” DSM deluded “mental health” minion?

    Let’s hope and pray our collective truth telling helps to bring about a better America, and a better world. God bless you in your life’s journey, and thank you for truthfully telling your story. My best wishes for a successful life journey, and I am sorry you experienced what I hope and pray is the worst of American history. Let’s take this country and world elsewhere instead.

  4. Bowen thank you for the article.
    Parents are often not helpful, and don’t feel badly if you need to come to that conclusion. They often hide their true natures as do many of the “help” people you encountered.
    If we all wore our thoughts on our sleeves, you would be appalled 🙂 and so, you have to look around you, observe and decide what is “normal”. The more you look, the more you find and do not mistake your definition of “normal” as the measurement. Psychiatry uses that “normal” yard “shtick”, although when pressed, they refuse to discuss the word “normal”.

    “….misconception that every deviation from normal has a quick medical fix.”
    If I am a counselor or therapist, psychiatrist, doctor etc…with clients in my chair, I might look very “normal”. However, if you remove that chair, what am I?

  5. The way you handle cops is to give them too much to do. Tails can be led many places, because they have to know what you’re doing. Maybe they’d like to spend the day at the mall, going into every store. Maybe they’d like a leisurely lunch at your favorite buffet as you go repeatedly back and forth from the food line. Talk quietly to many strangers, asking them innocent questions in a low voice, nodding significantly while glancing “suspiciously” around if they say anything in reply. If you smoke, ask your tail for lights. Drive aimlessly, while stopping at many places. Be sure to talk to strangers on the sidewalk while driving, making many stops at different places afterwards. Let them have a busy day, full of minor activities they can report. Always maintain a sunny disposition as you can, particularly if you have to talk to them.

  6. Bowen et al:

    How are you? And how is your thinking today? In this hour?

    A viewing of “To Kill a Mockingbird” along with “The Snake Pit” or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest might be worth some time. For if one also can access the trailers, keeping in mind the nature of film making then and now, will show the discrimination in making the films. The broader implications of pharma as a technology without understanding the impacts of the film industry itself, requires sensitive people to understand and make sense, as feelings in and beyond the imaginations.

    When I started city planning school at the University of Oklahoma, my Father would be in the last year of his life and the concern to take the Lithium the rest of my life was of concern. My thinking and the thought of a parent dying was an aspect all will face in time as well as learning the importance of grieving and grief. This was an aspect I did not understand at that time.

    And I would withdraw rather than fail the course on social planning. The term social did not make sense and the professor’s frame of reference then was “Towards a Social Theory of Planning”. Even now, when one hears social spoken in business houses, I wonder if they are hearing “socialism”. While working as a intern in the History of Science Collection, a student gave me a 4 page article, “The Social Thermodynamics of Ilya Prigogine”, which might be of interest. For if you have experienced being in the fire of war or the struggle of the idea of “chemical imbalances” when life is a continuously shifting of balance, then the whole of learning may need further discussions.

    In part from the arrogance experienced, I would transfer to a different university and once again I would take a Social Planning Class, where one would see the film of Saul Alinsky, famed community organizer from Chicago. Now, the context for learning was one of trying to understand the idea of planing for regions from a social ecological perspective.
    The idea of my past madness and the intellectual awakening trying to find new words, new concepts, and international friends proved to be an incredible learning experience about an ineffable way of knowing knowing [sic].

    To understand NOW, the nature of film, the industry, the South, at times may seem like another country to the rest of the world. The idea of Boo taking the unspoken role in an industry of image making then and now, begs to ask more questions. Or observations. Or conversations with our cats, dogs, neighbors, even with ourselves.

    Your insights are very important! And I must close by saying, “Thank you for the posting”. This is not the same to experience a direct conversation with other humans, without the technical mitigation of space, though now in order to connect within this network, perhaps offering some replies now and then might encourage learning, recovery and a way towards change in the practice of mental health care.

    Does this make sense for the reader(s)?

  7. Bowen

    Your story is shocking but not surprising. Young people today are being pressed to be “successful” to go to school, get a job usually for a large corporation. Sell your life for a few bucks to a company to a company that doesn’t give a damn about you. People are forced to compete due to capitalism and the capital mantra ” work hard play by the rules ( they make the rules ) and you can be anything you want. The world needs critical thinkers but sadly they are being weeded out of society in favor of boring those who simply memorize and regurgitate the lines.
    Noam Chomsky says best.

    “Neoliberal democracy. Instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless. In sum, neoliberalism is the immediate and foremost enemy of genuine participatory democracy, not just in the United States but across the planet, and will be for the foreseeable future.”
    Keep writing and you are part of a movement to free young people from this delusion, whether through your writing or perhaps a podcast or videos.
    We appreciate you so much.

    Best
    Jim

  8. You are simply smarter than normal people. Any trait that undermines self worth of anti human norm, makes you an easy target. Real people are persecuted by marxist psychiatry. Psychiatry represented Hitler, Stalin, ego and other monotheistic delusions. Never they represented psyche, never people like you. Never. They will take your brain and they will search for confirmation of their own hatred, there. Psychological people are too refined for clinical system of dumb greedy hyenas. And normal people don’t give a s. about this, as long as they are free. We live in an age of psychopathy.
    Thank you for this article and for information about Elijah.
    I recommend you James Hillman books.

  9. Bowen, thank you for your courage and sensitivity, exactly what the world needs right now. Your story is troubling because it speaks the truth of our times. To be persecuted as you describe is a crime against humanity, and it does leave an imprint. I know this from my own experience.

    “I told my hospital psychiatrist that I felt like Boo Radley in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird expecting a sympathetic response. Instead, I remember him sneering, ‘Well, it’s interesting you say that since he ended up doing some bad things.'”

    This made my head explode a bit, so many things wrong here! I know TKAM very well, I’ve read the book and have seen the film many times. I’ve said that in the past, too, about myself, that I felt like Boo Radley. For me this is no longer the case, but I remember vividly how that felt at the time.

    I can’t believe what the shrink said (well, I can, very easily, but it still stuns me), absolutely talking out of his ass, which in this case, I’d call profoundly irresponsible, and at the most subtle core of the problem with some of these clinicians. I’d call it bigoted, but it’s not clear from his response that he even knows this story! He either had no idea what you were talking about or, if he does know TKAM and who Boo Radley is, then he simply matched the little kids who gossiped about him in that very way, pure stigma, utter nonsense, and it caused them fear–not Boo, but the false stories about him, THAT was the true source of their fear. Evidently, psychiatrists, like these kids, fear their own false projections, causing all kinds of problems for everyone. Time to un-gaslight ourselves!

    Boo never did “bad things” nor would he hurt a fly. He was an extremely kind, sensitive, introverted man who ultimately rescued the two kids who gossiped about and feared him, and even taunted him, and saved their lives, totally selflessly and very bravely, given his fear of society, and out of pure kindness and compassion.

    Ignorance and stigma go together like tar and feathers. Good grief.

    Thank you again for speaking your truth, very powerful.

    • In addition, in To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch says to his daughter, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Published exactly 60 years ago, and we continue to struggle to get this, more than ever these days!

  10. Mr. Cho should not have had to learn the hard way that: A) Schools are NOT safe places for Mad people. B) Psychiatric oppression is often launched on the momentum of prior injustice, which, in his case, was racism. and C) The bodycam is your friend. Marginalized people have never been safe without them, and even an expensive one is cheaper than long-term “mental health care”.

    Kudos to him for sharing his story. The comparison he made between traumatic psychiatry and traumatic military service was critically important, particularly to his readers who do not yet understand how psychiatry can destroy a SOLID (For fuck’s sake, Cho was educated, a veteran, came from an affluent, loving family, and STILL got terrorized by ableist, racist, and aggressive people, some of whom were quacks.) life.

  11. “Civil rights advocates have noted that the real effect of policies like stop-and-frisk and “see something, say something” campaigns are not to reduce crime, but to increase the targeting of marginalized individuals, which sends a clear message that certain groups are not welcome in the community.”

    Don’t suspect a friend, Report them.

    Trust in haste, regret at Leisure

    Suspicion Breeds Confidence

    These were signs used in the sets of a movie called Brazil.

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088846/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

    I wonder how you consider the above quote in regards your time in Afghanistan? The recent crimes committed by our media in releasing video footage of the execution of civilians by our armed forces a result of the ‘paranoia’ created by such policies?

    I won’t post a link but the article concerned is called “Killing Field” and produced by our ABC.

    I also note that my government (or more correctly the people in power where I live. ‘My’ government wouldn’t allow me to have been tortured, and then killed for complaining about it. The people in power would.) came out after the initial wave of COVID panic and said ‘stop being racist towards people who look Chinese’, and then when the Chinese government issued a travel warning to their citizens as a result of attacks on their people due to that very racism, the government denied that anyone was being racist toward people who looked Chinese, and claimed the Chinese government was lying.

    They like to have their cake and eat it lol

  12. I am so sorry that you were given a psychiatric label instead of being responded to with understanding that you OF COURSE were suffering because of racist treatment and because of your not having a “typical” style of acting or coping. And I HOPE you will stop thinking of yourself as “mentally ill,” since the effects of trauma like racist treatment should NOT be considered mental illness, nor should being an introvert or otherwise different. In any case, even the American Psychiatric Association repeatedly acknowledges that it has never been able to come up with a halfway decent definition of “mental illness.” And it’s proven that the psychiatric categories are not scientific and cause enormous harm. The last thing you need is to accept other people’s pathologizing of you. I wish you all the best.

    • How do you advance in the academy if one enjoys learning, if by the very nature of thinking differently about reality as a verb? Trying to realize clearer ways of understanding concepts that add to life or the reasons to value the nuanced patterns can be hidden more in the brush than one’s prevailing belief systems. With this said, can governments be problematic, or the act of governance be “causal”? Or are the elected as opposed to the career civil servants protected in a structural way such that stability is woven into the leadership, as human? How does one process the right to be civil in practice and in law, to the point of being aware of “The Lights”? Thanks for your encouragement!

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