Saturday, February 4, 2023

Comments by Max Taylor

Showing 7 of 7 comments.

  • It’s an interesting conversation point about shifting understanding of what experiences to label as “depression” and what the heck such a label even means. Fifty years ago someone might be having a bad time of it but not use the word “depression” for it. The felt experience didn’t change, but the words used to describe and conceptualize it did.

    As you identify, we’re certainly in a period of increasing framing of experience as “mental illness”, which certainly plays into a power narrative of individualized distress with individualized solutions, including both psychotherapy and psychiatric drugs.

  • A useful starting point is understanding that all psychiatric research is based off of correlation, not causation. For those who self-report, without coercion, that a give medication helps, there is no mechanistic understanding as to why. That doesn’t mean it’s not doing something. But it means we can’t say for sure why it’s working.

    We put gas in a car, we know exactly how and why that makes an engine run.

    But we simply do not know the exact mechanisms of the brain that give rise to experience, including the experiences of love and joy, as well as anxiety and depression.

  • I do not understand how neuroscience justifies saying anything about higher-order phenomena like personality, emotions, etc. given the Hard Problem of Consciousness.

    I have faith in the observations of more directly mechanistic causation such as motor functioning and brain regionality. Anything beyond that seems to be flagrant abuse of correlation-causation.

    Would love to see a truly frank discussion of that topic at some point on MIA.

  • Well said. I wish advocacy theory, if we want to call it that, accounted for this. Sometimes, and only sometimes, there’s the path of building inroads. Slowly building allyship and common ground and going in through the crack in the front door.

    Other times it just winds up being a battle. Competing for power. Ousting problematic people.

    I’m probably not saying this best but is to say I really, really like calling out that sometimes the other person is really leaving no choice but to become an aggressor against them. Get them fired, etc. Ugly stuff.

    There’s enough gray space and nuance that it doesn’t have to be either / or, and I’m tired of any one way being declared universally “correct” or “incorrect”.

  • How do reconcile these two statements from the article…

    1) “We must recognize that this society is sick.” … “although individual intervention and treatment is important, healing at the community and societal level is imperative”

    2) “you have invited that spirit to take over your life”

    Really dislike the term “invited” given point #1. Also, it’s very challenging and nuanced to attempt to dissemble the complex suite of all of…

    – inherent traits (such as autism, ADHD, etc.)
    – social versus self versus mixed model of distress

    It’s also not true that all of us all have been in a good mood. I’ve worked with peers who genuinely haven’t had a good day or even moment in their whole lives. Which doesn’t mean they’re not capable and it’s a forgivable oversight of using generalizing language. I also see the broader point attempting to be made. Changing “all” to “most” is an easy fix there.

    I also feel so mixed about the role of identity and illness. Working as I do with chronically ill and disabled, the person’s role within society does become, even authentically, a defining part of themselves. Can look to, for example, the recapturing of the term “cripple” and especially “crip” and a recolonized mark of pride for some portion of that community. Crip is a proud thing. Can also see, for example, the so-called “mad pride” movement.

    That’s perhaps aside from the thrust the article is trying to make (which I agree with). Maybe it’s to say, instead of yet another article trying to tell people which identity is “healthy” and which isn’t, it’s to neutrally unpack problems with certain systems and then let people themselves decide what to do with terms, frameworks, and systems that feel most authentic to them.

    Maybe I’m just being bitter. I probably need to give this article a thorough second reading. And I also think sometimes it’s the words themselves that often fail us. We simply aren’t being equipped with an efficient set of concepts to fully or effectively describe the underlying phenomena we want to discuss, and that sometimes, for me at least, plays out in finding articles like this challenging to read.

    Did enjoy the read and took away some helpful observations and self-questioning, despite my many critiques above. Enjoyed learning about “interconnected sacredness”. Enjoying learning about a very different sort of cultural approach to asking and answering what “healing” and “illness” are. Great reminder that dominant Western medicine is not the be-all end-all authority on this.

  • Put another way, the amount of work you’re proposing here would take a full-time staff of maybe 6-12 people or more. Many of the blog readers here are any or all of the following…

    1) Poor
    2) Unpaid
    3) Discapacitated by their condition(s)
    4) Under-resourced in general

    I would love to be able to hire quality legal aides, write concise and heavily researched position briefs, perform full cost analyses, etc.

    Where is the time, energy, and money for such work going to come from? These tips are, in general, not bad suggestions. But without capacity I’m just not really sure what to do with this post.

    And, like I said somewhat angrily in my other post, it gets tiring as an advocate to have this level of work asked or demanded of us with zero financial or social aid of any kind. That’s why it felt so insulting and tone-deaf to read from my end as a grassroots activist.

    It also may be that I’m not a good target audience for this post and that’s valid.

  • I don’t mind this list of ideas, but I wish the tone of it had instead also expressed two things that feel absent…

    1) More empathy for expressing frustration
    People are not “just venting” and it feels a bit disparaging and patronizing to frame it that way. This is real suffering we’re seeing from the end users.

    2) Validating that advocates, at least as an ideal, shouldn’t be the ones forced into doing this work
    This is a complex and nuanced point. On the one hand, I acknowledge the oppressive reality in front of us. But I also don’t accept it. I am tired of narratives that frame everything as the advocate’s responsibility, versus also calling out others and systems that SHOULD be helping these efforts. Even if the harsh short-term reality is that they aren’t doing the work and are forcing the advocates to do it instead. Acknowledging that injustice felt absent from this article.

    It feels very telling that this article was written by a within-system, licensed professional, government official white male. There’s a characteristic talking down to tone that is so typical from people in such roles.

    I am so sick of hearing what I, the abused and neglected service user, need to do “differently” or “better” to get attention. Even if it’s arguably effective, it still on another level feels insulting and disrespectful.

    Where is the empowerment to come TO ME and EMPOWER ME, versus this shaming-feeling article about why I need to change. While certainly not intended, it feels shaming and victim-blaming.

    That’s why I’m highlighting the two points above. To be clear, note how I’m not trying to disagree with the practicality of the article.

    Often the thing most lacking here is SUPPORT and CAPACITY BUILDING.

    Apologies if this comment comes off as harsh. I can own that I’m being defensive in part because I’ve spent two years advocating, getting retraumatized and abused, and I despite any narrative that hints at me doing outreach to them wrong, versus them being oppressors and abusers.

    Maybe put another way – the people in charge shouldn’t be making it THIS hard. And part of my advocacy is a demand to be worked with rather than wholly catered to.