Comments by Matt V. Perry

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  • I’m suggesting that most of the population understands MIA issues in terms of mental illness, and may not be able to take part in a conversation otherwise.

    Whether or not using language one finds denigrating or problematic is incompatible with advancing a deeper movement, again: the Civil Rights Movement, Negro. Problematic language, strategic victory.

    (I don’t know who claimed that white intellectuals made the gains of that era, or who dismissed the work of activists, but it definitely wasn’t me)

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  • The point is to try to spark some consciousness in an exponentially larger yet unpoliticized population. Such a population exists, such a population does not yet have words for any of this, such a population could be won. I was trying to write in ways that might speak to them.

    If you disagree that the MIA style conversations are not taking hold outside of the internet, I would gladly be corrected.

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  • It’s discussed in Mad in America, but not in many other places.

    It was meant for sharing and promotion amongst an outside community, a wide majority of whom have no concept of these conversations (even in the disability rights part of Illinois, much of this is out of the picture). They can then browse the rest of MIA, if they so choose.

    There was no suggestion that anything here was being said for the first time or with any specific authority. I was mirroring the “call-to-arms’” that one finds in other political areas, because that sort of thing in high currency right now amongst the rest of the country – who, again, is not thinking of these issues in that way, despite a time of mass political awakening and conversation.

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  • My man! This is a smart and appreciated comment. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    “It seems to me that Joe Public is the most difficult group to influence – and they are not participating in Mad In America discussions. We are a diverse a group – it would be good to chunk the debate up to a point where we do have a shared need (respect, rights, realistic expectations of professionals and a way to ensure them).”

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Speak to the middle ground amongst a broad mass of people. Would require a mainstream platform that for now seems non-existent, though I am certain that there is a large, large population who would like to see these issues addressed, given how widely they impact people.

    “2. Let’s get a band of INFORMED professionals and service seekers in the system (preferably global with UK, EU nouse) to develop best practice guidelines that a service user can reference in a discussion about choice and consent, instead of leaving it to the professional. When the Mayo Clinic website still says ” Schizophrenia requires lifelong treatment, even when symptoms have subsided. Treatment with medications and psychosocial therapy can help manage the condition. In some cases, hospitalization may be needed” we KNOW this is not best practice. Frankly, I think that puts them and others in the same boat at risk, legally.”

    Here in illinois, there is a group called the Paychothrapy Action Network (PsiAN) working on that, along with some of the earlier points you raised about public participation and education.

    Does anyone else know of organizations that are doing similar work?

    “3. The “fast track” idea appeals to me. How can we get a trio of universities to champion recent research and learnings into best practice policy at government level? Government should be higher than psychiatric associations in the power hierarchy.”

    That’s a good question. What institutions are doing research that we want to see put in practice? I know the University of South Florida has interesting mental health programs, and there is a small number of Disability Studies Programs in the US that may have something to offer.

    As for mainstream figures – I don’t know who is and isn’t sympathetic. There is a trend amongst famous people of identifying with a psychiatric diagnosis, generally with affirmative, pro-social intentions. There ought to be somebody who is winnable there, and who could be an advocate. But right now, I don’t know who.

    You mentioned Maddow – she had an unfortunate incident at the start of 2017 about guns and mental illness. Seems to really, really believe in assumptions of violence and mental illness. As for her views on the rest of the system, I don’t know. But that was an infamous moment, and one which will be hard to overcome, barring annadmission of fault and an apology.

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  • Hella obvious, hella predicted, and yet it happened anyway.

    Key distinction, though: on the internet.

    I don’t think my beef if with the concept of social justice so much as with the butchered form it takes online. It’s the method that’s the issue. All disclaimers were a preemptive strike to invite a give-and-take dialogue as opposed to a one way attack. I think a little bit of that came up here. A modest gain for a modest article.

    Next time I just won’t bother with trying to appease anyone up front 😉

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  • Samruck2,

    Thank you for the reply. I happen to agree with what you say about common humanity, and off of the internet my world is pretty heterogeneous. I tried to communicate most of the article as such, and to do so, I committed the sin of using the phrase mental illness, which is where most people understand these issues. Ad hominem ensued, along with spirlangly insular comments, all from people I have no contact with.

    I write about other social movements in relationship to left/right dynamics because historically social movements have gained more power, voice, and support on the left, while conservatism has positioned itself in favor of traditional orders, if not in stark opposition to them. It’s a tactical decision more than anything else.

    As for a right/left issue, I’m also influenced by the work of Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, longtime observers of American politics. Roughly a decade ago, in their text, “It’s even worse than it looks,” they cautioned about division and bitterness in American politics, just as everyone else does, but with one key distinction: it’s asymmetrical. Democrats are insular, but as an organization they at least remain within the boundaries of inherited political mores. They identified Republicans as an “ideological insurgency” – hostile to the legitimacy of their opppstion, scornful of compromise, unconcerned with a conventional understanding of the facts, and altogether deeper and more committed to their extremes than their opposition. When in power, it poses a direct threat to the future of life, and if this is what the Right is when in power, then I absolutely oppose it. If there was any skepticism of Mann and Ornstein’s warning then, there shouldn’t be after Trump. And unfortunately, I think this obstinacy is reflected in right-wing media as well. It’s not that I don’t also want to speak to their readership and base. I very much do – I share a lot more with them than I do Roger Ailes. Wayyy more. They are not my enemy. I just don’t have faith that anything could take hold and advance from the right within their power structures and political commitments.

    For what it’s worth, I also have a distaste for the smugness one finds in the commentariat elsewhere. I write on this website because it’s one of only a few places where I have a platform. But I would love to reach out to the other half! In fact, charging towards the mainstream is exactly what I want to do.

    Perhaps we can work together, and thanks for the encouragement!

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  • Thank you for your response!

    Part of my concession comes from the realization that, in the absence of a catch-all term, it is not clear what terms would speak to a critical mass of people. Once self-identification comes into play, then they are countless ways that people would like to identify with outside of the “mental illness” metaphor. See, for example, how many different gender identifications have emerged lately once the breakdown of the male/female binary has been introduced.

    I would also like to see people use more empowering language for themselves and for others. That is a welcome development. Bur I think that before that can happen, there needs to be a mainstreamed analysis as to why this is so. Why “mental illness” is a bad concept is self-evident to most people here, as most of these comments demonstrate. I also think that this populace is exponentially outnumbered by people who don’t know that. My hope is to contribute to creating the cultural and political institutions necessary to meet this mass of people and bring the winnable subset of them into new consciousness.

    Hence, “The re-politicization of mental illness.”

    Though I trust you understand that 🙂

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  • Thank you all for your comments.

    I’m running on a couple of assumptions here that I was not able to express . Firstly, I believe there are a great amount of people who, by virtue of their depression or their proximity to suicide, or any other nameless complaint, would potentially resonate with a critique of psychiatry, of the concept of “mental illness,” and then later take on a more radical point of view. Given the fact that there is almost no discernible mainstream presence of these ideas, however, I have made a strategic compromise and used the phrase “mental illness.” I am aware of objections to this. The point is not to endorse the underlying concept of “mental illness”, but rather to create a point of entry for a broader population to start thinking about them critically. Unfortunately, “mental illness” logic and language permeates every part of the mainstream, and therefore this is the only way a lot of people know how to conceptualize suffering, or at least express it in words. If you have something that introduces the conversation as effectively, I am open to hearing it.

    I share your concerns about “mental illness,” and I hope that more can be brought to understand them. I stated as much in the article, very clearly. Again, there is virtually no mainstream presence for these ideas. The primary point of entry for a vast majority of the population is going to come through the internet. In my personal life, I’ve attracted people into new thinking simply through my personal social media activity, and they have all started from a status-quo place of thinking. I’ve then seen very good people approach these issues in very good faith, only to be turned away with their hands in their faces because the only language they knew – the problematic illness language – was deemed unacceptable by certain members online peanut gallery, and they were subsequently rebuked, and now only know how to approach these issues with a great deal of shame and fear. That is not my personal preference for consciousness-raising or movement-building, and I don’t think that we can make some effort to communicate these ideas to a broader public (and build numbers) if we don’t make some effort to meet them where they are at and allow for them to move towards deeper thinking and action.

    That is my tactic, at least. You are free to have yours. Thank you for responding. I appreciate it.

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