Sunday, December 8, 2019

Comments by Chuck Ruby, PhD

Showing 2 of 2 comments.

  • You had me until the end. I wholeheartedly agree with you that “mental illness” is not illness and this is the crux of the problem. The term and all the diagnoses reify human struggles and imply they are diseases that make people do things (e.g., “bipolar causes mania”). But at the end of your essay, you said those who perpetrate the mass shootings suffer from “a sick mind.” Minds cannot be sick. And though we might use “sick” metaphorically here, we can also use “mental illness” metaphorically. But, that is the heart of the problem. Those figurative phrases are taken literally by most people. Sick minds do not cause mass shootings. Using that phrase allows us to overlook the very real factors involved in violence. It is no different than saying “the devil made me do it.”

  • ISEPP has lost one of its finest members. Matt Stevenson was a wonderful human being and his contributions to ISEPP were substantial. He was always researching and reaching out to others in order to understand his personal experiences on the receiving end of the mental health system. His assessment of that system was spot on. It unfortunately is not set up to respect the dignity and humanity of people who struggle as he did, and in the end it failed him.

    We in ISEPP valued his thought-provoking involvement on the ISEPP listserv and in personal email exchanges with several of us. He was not shy about sharing his learned ideas and did so in a candid, stimulating, and respectful way. I had the honor of meeting him in person and we talked quite extensively about his life, mine, and his interests in changing the mental health system towards a more humane and compassionate one. Our exchange helped me greatly as I was assuming the position as ISEPP’s Executive Director.

    After having no contact with him since early summer, I reached out to him two weeks ago. He shared that he was having a difficult time with personal and family issues and it was hard getting things “back under control.” He was particularly disturbed by a study that reported poor recovery rates for people experiencing psychosis. I know he reached out to others as well in order to understand this study. But despite his pain he still thought to wish me well.

    I always find choices like his heartbreaking. While I understand a person’s decision in order to soothe severe emotional angst, I wish the decision would be put off, at least just one more day at a time. Circumstances and situations always change, as does one’s hope for the future. Rest well, my friend. You are missed.