Get Out of the Explain Lane

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From Benzo Brains: “When you’re broken, it’s too hard to carry both yourself and others. And by carrying I mean with your words, whether in explaining, pleading or arguing. One crucial part of us that is severely shattered is our energy. As researcher and professor emeritus Robert Raffa explains in our interview, benzodiazepine syndrome affects the production of ATP. Similarly, other researchers have discovered the same to be true for fluoroquinolone injuries, and I’m sure the same could be said for psychiatric medications in general. For anyone who forgot their high school biology, ATP is how your body creates ENERGY—ENERGY for every single metabolic process from breathing, to digestion, to walking up a flight of stairs. When you have a benzodiazepine-induced injury, you lack the energy to do all the things you normally would. For some (like me when I was in withdrawal and recovery), even speaking requires too much energy. It took me every last ounce of ATP I had to simply survive day by day as my body struggled to piece the bits of myself back together that had been blown apart by the pervasive injury to my brain and body.

More than this, due to my iatrogenic brain injury, I had great difficulty following a coherent thought through to its conclusion, much less stringing that thought together into a coherent sentence. So imagine me trying, not only to understand what was going on with my brain and body, but then trying to explain that to others… it was pretty pathetic! Now that I’m older and wiser, I advise others travelling down this road to save their energy for the journey. The destination is often farther than we think. Little detours off to the side to explain why we are where we are, why we aren’t where they are, and why we haven’t reached the finished line yet is exhausting, to say the least. And more often than not, it’s a waste of time.”

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5 COMMENTS

  1. “Never explain yourself to anyone”
    quote by Apj Abdul Kalam.

    On his video he outlines why. I mention this because right now my radar dish mind finds something odd. It is this. Activism within the survivor population eschews psychiatry and instead turns to the darling of psychology for inspiration about the human condition but not “philosophy” or “mysticism”. It is as if we as a society have bought into an idea that we can only “explain” ourselves if we use correctly post modern words like “trauma” and “growth” and “identity”. Such quasi brain words now eclipse ancient words like “death” and “birth” and “existential longing”. And yet it is ancestral words from philosophy and mysticism that do not require us to become anything other than what we intrinisically are and naturally are. So why do survivor activists not answer psychiatry with a volley of words from robust philosophy or mysticism instead of words from psychology? I suspect it is because activism feels a pressure “to explain” and one can only “explain” with agreed upon mutual language, even in a squabble, in this case the “brain language” of psychxxx.

    Activists tend to descend into “explaining” almost through feeling coerced to “talk nicely”. Activists use agreed upon medicalese, instead of turning to their forefathers and foremothers to use the woolly words of profound and sublime collective wisdom, found in philosophy or mysticism. But by doing so, by always people pleasing by articulating in psychxxx words that hasten our opponent to accept our “explaination” a healing stance is not taken, the stance of “knowing” for oneself the truth of how things are with us, and “knowing” it in our own languages. I look forward to reading one or two articles in Mad In America that showcase what the philosophers and mystics might say to the pharmaceutical companies about the human brain. Philosophy tends to accept the way we are as humans, science tends to want to “improve” us. Psychology, ever keen to be “explanitory” and “agreeable” tends to nervously straddle both.

    • What you are saying here is very important!

      After I started to get a better grip on philosophy and older teachings, my favorite word became “love.” I also like “spirit.”

      I wonder sometimes if most modern people have any idea what these words mean!

      Yes, I am “modern” in that I hope for improvement. But not through a drug or some fancy technology.
      How do we convince more “modern” people to reconnect with the wisdom-seeking traditions?

  2. l_e cox, I am making soup. I am contemplating your question. It is very interesting indeed so thankyou for bringing it. I am noticing how the act of soup making has a transcendent stillness in an otherwise hectic day. It “feels” like I am doing philosophy as I slowly stir the brocolli and stilton liquid in the pot. Very soothing. Requiring no words, words, words. The mind rests from its factory mill of word production. And into the wordless peace I feel bliss. I am walking the talk. I am doing the philosophy of soup making.

    So there is “doing” philosophy, (doing things philosophically), and there is gathering “intellectual knowledge” of philosophy. Both are liberating. But the first doesnt like words, which is a huge relief if you are exhausted. And the second positively revels in as many heady words as can be fit into every conceivable thought. Which is exasperating but exhillarating. I feel “love” is similar. “Doing” love is usually devoid of words and bears no comparison to gaining lots of “intellectual knowledge” about love. “Spirit” can also be a contender in this list. There is “doing” spirituality and reading a whole library on it. The “doing” of philosophy, love and spirit are wisdoms without words. So in answer to your curiosity about how to convince modern people that they might derive comfort, or even transformation, from these, I suspect such “doing blissful wordlessness” would be an anathema to most people, in a mixed up world gone mad on expecting billious quantities of verbiage every minute of the day. They would expect a fact sheet, a lengthy report, an explanation of my soupy silence, a textbook with trillions of words to memorize and spill to a dozen other people to convince them in turn. Infact as I type here I wonder at the word “convince”. I own that convincing is my favourite sport, as it involves winning, but often for me it’s at the price of simple acceptance of the other person. Which is a more beautiful “win” for everyone. So I share your dismay about how to begin convincing a modern person of the healing power of “philosophy” or “love” or “spirit” in a world that increasingly demands exessive words in order to be convinced of anything. A modern person after being so argumentatively convinced may be reeling from not feeling just accepted.

    But I do feel the Hippies got it right. They seemed to have a talent for “doing” philosophy and love and spirit in a full bodied non wordy way, as a counterpoint to the verbiage of their day. Maybe they would have clutched at psychology instead, had it come to its current fruition. But I think we need a balance of ALL of these, philosophy and love and spirit and the more psychological and brain appreciations. I just believe that “psych” has become a prevallent language and a prevallent try at a “doing” thing, as in therapy, to the exclusion of the more traditional healings and understandings about life, philosophies that involve less words and more knowing things in your deepest being…just because you know.

    • I must admit to you that my “question” was somewhat rhetorical.

      But I am dismayed that in this day and age, even an appeal to “freedom” or “human rights” often falls on deaf ears.

      Yes, we certainly need a balance between thinking and doing. Our technical words should be pronouncable and not overly flowery or evasive. Our theories should inform practices that are definite and doable, a bit like we have in the engineering world.

      The current challenge seems to be in the field of ethics. We are allowing certain players to stifle unwanted discussions and punish unwanted activities. It is a very grave situation. It seems we must now appeal to the average man’s most basic sensibilities and repugnance for dishonesty. But if the majority continue to allow themselves to be lied to and mistreated, things could become even rougher for those who can see plainly that this is what is occurring.

      Some think that a fairly major and shocking event will need to happen that will finally force people to realize that they are being horribly manipulated and at the same time give them a sane way to respond. I shudder to think what such an event might look like. Barring that, it seems to me to be very important for those who are more aware to support each other in speaking out and not chop at each other for making minor mistakes (or perhaps handle these things privately). But the forces of “evil” are very great, and we should steel ourselves for some defeats. We can’t give up.

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