Sunday, September 20, 2020

Comments by Katie W.

Showing 29 of 29 comments.

  • Thank you for this brilliant essay and for the weaving together the ideas of heroic, human dignity activists. I came of age in a cult, and found as I encountered the mental health sytem working in a government agency as a monitor of complience, how cult like the system was. The priests of the cult are the therapists and the aim is to create a population of conformity, of Stepford wives.
    The mental health world then polices “normal thought” which are thoughts that go along with theirs. I once questioned a therapist why I should trust him having met him 15 minutes before as he demanded my trust. I’d already picked up his trappings and mannerisms of white male access to power and determined he was incrediably patriachal. His replies “there are medications that can help with that” demonstrated his priviledge that anyone that didn’t immediately trust him should be drugged to do so.

    In all systems of oppression there are thought police. Those that are given authority over our minds as we are trained to not trust our own. My patriarchal cult said the minds of women were the devils fodder, hence only the male voice was trustworthy. THis is how men end up with 20 wives and 80 children everyone around them is taught that the “annointed ones” are the voice of God and brainwashed from an early age that the female mind must have the “covering” of the male mind. This seems very much like the therapy world now only it is the therapist mind, a mind often shaped by privilege they never unpacked that gives them a corrupted lens of their right to rule over others mind. The arbiter of truth for you, for your family is someone that only knows you from a lens of their own superiority. They are blind to their a lens completely skewed by privilege

    The DSM is their holy writ and they are the cultural intepretors that help us get along with the insanity of the American Dream. On occasion someone with insight stands back and see is all for what it is. You’ve listed several of my truth speaking heroes here,my favorite is John McKnight that views people as assets not problems to be resolved by the superior and the privileged
    This quote is priceless :”””Linking
    White privilege, environmentalism, and support for psychiatric oppression isn’t hyperbolic: Both America’s environmental movement and mental health system have historical roots in White supremacism. And environmentalists still skew predominantly White and middle-to-upper class—a demographic more likely to have experienced expensive private psychotherapy than social oppression and psychiatric detentions.”””

  • Much like mental health “care” labor and delivery in a typical American hospital is associated with profoundly traumatic assaults on the dignity of its victims. They are stripped of their clothes, subject to unwanted poking and prodding by people pushing drugs in sometimes physically violent ways. Meanwhile the vulnerable laboring mother pays enormous sums for an experience some refer to and experience as “birth rape”. Going into a hospital, young, naive and trusting the authorities of that institution to look out for your best interest is a great awakening for many women that are left with postpartum traumatic stress.

    Rather than ask what are we doing to women in labor and delivery that they leave traumatized the victims of trauma are blamed of some inherent female weakness another made up, money making diagnoses called PPD . In fact, far more often then some fault of the mother, the experience of care has deeply wounded her. The victim of inhumane treatment is not comforted but rather accused of having postpartum depression. In fact like psychiatric patients that leave an institution demoralized, traumatized and tortured, many women have a similar experience with birth practices.

    In a previous profession I dealt with thousands of postpartum women and noted anecdotally their loss of autonomy once they entered the hospital doors played a big part in how traumatized they were. Its something women don’t talk about, they are admonished they had a healthy baby, get over it, its just the way it is, that’s birth after all. But, in their souls they know it wasn’t meant to be that way and thus a cognitive dissonance between what they instinctively know is right versus what happened strips their sense of safety in the world

    When psych patients refuse treatment because its been traumatic rather than ask “what is wrong with our treatment” the patient is considered to have a broken brain and unable to tell what is actually good for them. This is the bait and switch of industrialized medicine. It applies to childbirth as well. Those countries with lower rates of so called PPD don’t have the same c-section and intervention and drugging rates that American hospitals are infamous for.

  • I’m sorry to hear the stuffed animal in the chair psycho-drama foisted on you. It seems the indignities perpetrated by the profession are only limited by their imagination. Of course I also think being imaginative and creative is one of the things they try to cure if it doesn’t fit in a certain small box.

  • I understand your longing for hope and in fact, whether I conveyed it or not I do feel hopeful. But my hope is not in the system, the story is about what happened to me when I put my hope there. I also put my hope that education could lift me out of the “untouchable” class in that system and I found that it did not.

    I had no where else to find hope in the end but my faith. Consequently, I put down very deep roots in the hope of Presence in homeless shelters and in hunger, in loneliness, isolation and persecution. My journey has been long and painful and a small fraction is told in the story I wrote. A therapist called my clinging to faith “religious delusions” and said “faith is okay as long as you don’t take it seriously.” But I could see that all her faith was in the system that paid for her Mercedes outside her plush office door. She took her dogma very seriously that spirituality was a minor part of life. For me, it was the way and the reason I kept on breathing. Yes, I’ve lost hope in the system, and in people form the system but I’ve gained a hope I feel that is more reliable. The worse my situation became the more faith kept my head above water in the storn

  • Thank you for sharing your own experience of discrimination and the inferior medical care a labeled person receives. I have health issues absolutely tied into the years I was “compliant” and took medications that did not help me, that created more symptoms than I had in the first place. Compliance was one of the most harmful things to my physical health I ever participated in. It took years to withdraw from the heart and kidney damaging medications I was on and I am left with physical injury severe enough to qualify for disability.

    Your story of shared experience gives me hope that we lived to tell the truth and that the truth is powerful and must be said out loud. The hope for me in all of this was that I learned to take power over my own life and understand I was my own bust counselor. I can now appreciate the growth that emerged out of very real and profound suffering from the “cure”.

  • Yes, beautifully expressed truth about trying to leave and going back and finding out once again, it was a fake life. The fear of flying free when you are convinced your brain is broken your mind not to be trusted from those that gained from that exploitation is no small amount of courage. And sometimes it involves steps forward, steps backwards. Mary Oliver’s poem “The Journey” inspired me
    one day you knew what you had to do….

  • Yes it was a co-option of a grass roots movement whose power was our own voice calling the emperor naked. We became pawns as an uprising was silenced and made “socially acceptable” into “peer” professionals. And some of us marched (or crawled) into those places as peers and had hell to pay for doing so. Nothing changed but the labels. The so called or labeled consumer was consumed the minute they accepted the label.
    I just wanted to be considered a human being with something to give

  • I agree with this absolutely. No one in the system trying to be a change agent thought as a child “when I grow up I want to be a stigmatized outsider, scapegoat of systemic evil, in which I am labeled mentally ill.” I find in the work world outside the fantasy land of mental health that there may be dysfunction and toxic workplaces but rarely is it ever the level of toxicity that organized mental health is. Rarely does one group in a work place become suspect and discounted and voiceless because they have a label of “defective” attached to them.
    There may be covert racism,ageism or sexism which is painful and awful but the difference in those places created to supposedly serve a “consumer” the “consumer” being served is marginalized both as a recipient of services and trying to work in the system that serves other consumers.
    My career advice to anyone that wants a rewarding career do something creative and engaging that doesn’t depend on the creation of a class system in order to generate an income. We erased natural helpers in communities, those people sought out for their wisdom and comfort that happened organically, by professionalizing a so called “helping” profession. That profession requires the absorption of the DSM to classify people and slowly erode their humanity while elevating those with the power to label. The system by which we classify a so called illness actually creates a class system of which the therapists become the elite class.

  • Healing from the cure is a miracle and proof of resiliency and courage and the beauty of the human soul. This statement so perfectly sums up my own experience. (and by the way I imagine lots of survivors come from narcissistic families in which they played the scapegoat while their siblings became the golden child therapists) Hence family or origin is powerfully replicated in this sick system. This quote of yours a resounding YES ” But without a doubt, it took me a lot longer and the deepest healing imaginable to me, to heal from the utterly toxic relationship dynamics perpetuated in the mh system. I’m not even sure that is totally healed, the confusion from this can still pop up from time to time. Meditation serves me well in this regard, to get clarity and trust my gut instinct. “

  • I tend to agree with you, but I wouldn’t even call it peer support. I’d call it human support, or competent support. What if we gave the following titles to service providers “therapist–(the rapist) ” and “competent support” and let people chose which one gets to charge a fee for services based on actual help? In the hierarchy the therapist would be at the bottom of the pecking order and the competent help would supervise them based on their ability to understand impacts of systemic stigma. Therapists would only get hired if the competent help deemed them appropriate after they identified structures of oppression, classism and racism in their classic therapist training.

  • Thank you for this wonderful and insightful comment. The burden of proving the discrimination is nearly impossible. EEOC had enough evidence in my case to bring it to mediation but I was not in a situation due to the impacts of workplace discrimination (homelessness) to fight hard. The mediator violated her mediation rules as she explained to me “I’m not supposed to take a side here or comment but I want you to know they are, even now, treating you in a demeaning and disgusting way. You might refuse their offer (and it was paltry and insulting she said for the level of harm done. I refused the offer but never had the wherewithal to hire an attorney and then I decided to move on with my life

    I’d once been in a position in which the psychiatrist broke confidentiality laws in a way that harmed me. The lawyers said we know he broke the law, we know you have evidence the most that will result in his case is a misdemeanor in an unwinnable case. It is unwinnable because “who do you think they’d believe, the prominent doctor that comes from a prominent family in this area or the mentally ill woman.: It reinforced the hopelessness of fighting this system

    Clearly social justice wasn’t on their radar or something worth fighting for. I consider it a stacked deck and yet those of us that are harmed by the stacked deck are ashamed as if we deserved this The entire system is narcissistic, the scapegoats being the victims they supposedly serve

  • I appreciate your comments and reading this. I remember hearing you at a conference and being deeply inspired and grateful. Your were grounds for hope and my own desire to be a change agent. However, is true that because of your MD and possibly the social strata and connections you had from your life outside that diagnoses you didn’t experience the same level of persecution and shame. Additionally the power to diagnose, prescribe and control those labels somewhat puts those at clinician levels in a less authoritative position.

    I’m glad to hear you’ve written a book about emotional CPR, I could have used it when staff applied Emotional First-aid to me which was the new fad in my state mental health government position.

    My dearest friend, worked as a consumer in the county was missing. I’d called her boss and was told the police were trying to find her. I was waiting for the call and when I got the call I heard that she’d committed suicide. As I sat at my cubicle in a state of stunned shock, I soon noticed about 5 or 6 people headed toward my desk. My friend’s boss told them they better check on me, after all, “she’s a consumer” And so these fellow employees newly trained as trainers in mental health first aid converged.

    We’d just joined another division, I sat nearby the other employees that had no idea I was the token consumer. To my shame and angst one of the first aid responders said “we heard about your friends death and because of your consumer history we want to check on you” He said this loudly, to me it felt like he had a bullhorn I was outed very publically at the moment of the deepest sorrow of my life.

    They blocked the exit and asked me “what are you going to do” At that moment my sense of panic and danger was acute because these people all had the power and authority to commit me if they didn’t like my answer. One said “are you going to kill yourself” (I suppose the direct question is part of the first aid approach)

    I replied, I’m going to go to a church to pray to which another of the inquisitors said “what if God is dead” (My thought at that time was lady that is your issue not mine) By now I’m blocked on all sides from getting out the door because I needed to escape them and get some fresh air and go to the ocean But I was searching for the “right answer”. So I said, I’m going to go see my therapist friend. (right answer but not my actual plan)

    At that point the entire building is watching this shame infused and for me absolutely degrading “mental health first aid” by a bunch of former mental health therapists now bureaucrats that wanted to try out their new method and display what good therapists they are. I have PTSD from the psychiatric system, the only thing they accomplished was further entrench that I was less than human to them.

    The same people that never invited me to lunch now were going to rescue me without regard to the most basic principle that some of us like privacy in our grief. And don’t block exits for someone in deep pain

    I left that job where I’d planned on being a change agent not long after this event understanding that no one in the building was allowed to see me as a fellow professional. I left knowing I’d probably not survive another 6 months and because of my commitment to live I left to save myself

  • Thank you for your bravery in sharing your experience too. A friend’s mother died in the hospital parking lot of a heart attack after being turned away in the ER. My friend was able to prove that it was a bigotry toward her mother’s diagnoses that lead the nursing staff to assume it wasn’t a medical emergency. She won a lawsuit, but I wonder how many people fail to get adequate medical treatment because in their chart, underlined in red, is a mental diagnoses?

    You are wise to get the branding off of you. My medical treatment improved substantially when I unloaded the branding. On occasion I ask to read my medical chart, so far, no mention of a label and I breathe a sigh of relief

  • That is actually the opposite of the moral of this story if there is one. If you mean that a program requiring funding rolls out a dog and pony show using “consumers’ to attract that funding without regard to impacts on the consumer than I’d suggest that the consumers are objectified for the sake of getting money.

    This brings up the whole idea of what it means to “do good” to, or for people, I think often when something truly good happens there is something mutual and human that happened, not one person being the savior of the other. An exception to this might be a doctor saving your life but when that happened in my case the doctor was so authentic and valued me that the interchange of humanity blessed us both. We became real friends, not something that could happen in mental health.

    Good is what happens when transparent authentic human beings see each other for the beautiful contribution to the world that they are. Goodness arises out of an equality of value and the interaction between equal gifts If, I am “doing good” for someone I”m most likely harming them if I’m doing good by presuming I am good and they need my goodness and I’m going to bestow that on them. That is paternalism and not goodness, goodness is in my opinion unconscious of itself and happens spontaneously.

    Additionally, I cringe when I hear statements such as “I just want to empower people” There is an assumption in that statement that I have the power, they do not and good me is going to give them some power. Because I’m good… I believe this affirms the unhelpful idea that the location of control is outside that person, So many paternalistic and diminishing attitudes are inherent in the mental health profession that I don’t have the stomach to deal with it anymore. Its insidious and hard to explain unless you’ve been “other” while someone was being “good” to you

    If I could do anything it would be to remove the savior complex from mental health and make room for people that received services to run those services. By make room I mean provide money for education and opportunities in non-bigoted work places. It isn’t “doing good” to do that its just being wise with resources and identifying the assets that are already present in so called consumers. We need diversity in work places it enhances the work place, but not the kind of diversity in which a class system develops

  • Knowledge is power, I love that! It is heartbreaking when you can see what is really happening, and the hopes and dreams of a “peer” provider are going to get run over by the steam roller of those whose privilege rocked them to sleep. Those peers can feel it. No matter how good or smart or hard working, that undercurrent “not one of us” permeates the air. They straddle two worlds and are residents of neither. Neither the old life but not welcomed to the new. Being a peer professional doesn’t allow you to grow, not professionally nor personally because as a peer there is always suspicion by those that are not. It is a shame that anyone hired couldn’t just be a “professional” mental health tech. Peer counselor is the only job in an agency in which a worker’s health history is disclosed in their job title. And its not a good place to have that history disclosed. I’ve said before its like being the identified sinner in an evangelist convention

  • Thank you for reading this and for your support. When I worked in the field I remembered a client telling me she desperately wanted to go away and start her life over as her real self and not as the caricature she’d become. I’d been at those “team meetings” where they dissected her like a bug, and in a gossipy and maligning way ascribed all sorts of nasty mental health jargon “malingering, manipulate,” The psychiatrist, a well to do, young woman utterly contemptuous of the woman called the woman a delusional liar. As if she knew in the 5 minutes she’d met her.

    But I saw the soul behind those labels not because I’m good or better but because I was still just another human responding to a person in pain that wanted to flee her therapy and get her life back By then her whole life was a court ordered mandated treatment nightmare that she couldn’t escape. A part of me wanted to tell her “change your name, flee the country, start over and don’t ever darken the door of a mental health agency again. She had no resources to do these things.

    Yes, relocation… and remembering who you really are… It feels very much like a bird flying out of a cage when you can leave the past behind Safe travels friend,

  • I’m sorry this happened to you. Because of a lack of transparency in the mental health system, because labeled people have no legitimacy, because assumptions are made about the altruism of a therapist, their victims are erased. Your story is painful and you are not alone in it. I know several spouses of powerful yet narcissistic leaders in the mental health system that barely survived the hellish lives their psychologist spouse inflicted on them. It isn’t just a dark side of the profession, the profession begins with so many faulty ideas about people they label. The power to label or name a thing and create its destiny helps create that god complex that is so dangerous

  • Yes, about NAMI, I could write a book about things heard and seen there it is no friend of people with a diagnoses. A former friend that was president of a local NAMI would reply to my comments about some of the abuses I”d seen in the system “that didn’t happen’ “that could not happen” . She wondered why her labeled adult son kept having disastrous experiences and blamed him for the system fails. When I tried to explain, I’d seen thus and such in the system she put her head in the sand and tuned it out. No, he has a broken brain that is why he resists…. There is nothing you can say to that lack of logic.

  • You also reinforce my conviction that this field is not safe for those that hope redemption is a true thing in life. Yes the hope of redemption is gnawed away by those diagnoses and prognosis that you are irretrievably broken and must be medicated your entire life to make you socially acceptable. And even then, you are other and always will be. So glad you found good work outside the soul crushing morass of work in mental health

  • Thank you so much TRM 123, for this profound encouragement. I had no intention of reading comments because I was afraid, but when I read such comments as yours it brings a redemptive meaning to the pain I survived. Living to tell about it and capture the real misery of people in a system that is supposed to help but is instead so terribly destructive is perhaps why I survived. The “why” means much to me. I survived to speak for those who can’t speak about the very real misery of working in a system that sells out its “patients” to a drug industry, and to a set of lies about what their lives mean. There is much about mental health as it is currently practiced that is identity theft of a group of people that were meant to shine in their own unique way.

  • The shame attached with poverty, perpetrated by those with the good luck of not experiencing it, is something I’ve seen its victims carry. I know of stories of other “consumers” in work places that had abysmal experiences with management and coworkers. They were so grateful to have a job and had so internalized shame that they didn’t know the level of outrage being perpetrated on them. The diminishing of unions in this country right now will only hurt workers

  • Yes, a revolution is needed and the people to lead it or those with lived experience. My 15 years in the system was extremely destructive but long after I left it, the life destroying impacts are still present. Asking people themselves “what do you think will help you get your life back” and learning from people that did find their way to some sense of wholeness is the place to begin. A relative that is a therapist learned a lot about recovery talk from me. She became a sought after recovery spokesman but confided to me “at the end of the day no matter what you say about recovery a schizophrenic is still a schizophrenic and cannot be expected to work or “recover”.

    She’d been trained in the therapy world to look at people as a label which suited her inclination towards narcissism and the great savior complex. There are ways and places to find a life you like for a lot of us its not what the mental health system is selling even on their best day

  • You said this so well. When I moved to a new area I do not bring any psych history with me and found as a result I received far better medical care. People with a diagnoses die an average of 25 years ealier than non-labeled people I believe there are 2 reasons for this, first the meds themselves have organ damaging side effects, and secondly, if you present for any physical complaint and have a psych history the assumption will be made your physical complaint means you aren’t taking enough psych drugs. Becoming completely illegitimate serious illness get ignored until they are fatal. I like your analogy about not extending your arms for a straight jacket. Thanks for reading this and for finding commonalities

  • The deep grief I experienced in this system was watching people with talent and heart and intact souls buy the label, build a distorted identity off it, become a professional patient and thereby lose the beautiful contribution they could have made to their world. Unfortunately many are too harmed by the prescribed treatment to remember why they are on the planet. There is something insidiously dark in a place that is supposed to heal but actually harms and limits life. I’m sad so many people believe a billing code describes them. Selling sickness is big money, if in doubt check out how much Medicaid pays for psych drugs with questionable benefit to anyone but their profit margin

  • Alex, thank you for reading this piece and for “getting it” Your words were very encouraging. Yes, the client senses the mockery there is a diminishing impact. But I think as well those mockers are diminished as humans too. Systemic gaslighting, yes…. and yes, it is a treacherous system. HR is owned and powerless to stop a narcissistic system built on the premise “your brain is broken, mine is not, I will save you with my superior mind” I appreciate your support very much!