Monday, April 6, 2020

Comments by Cathy

Showing 7 of 7 comments.

  • Thanks for the link articulate poet. Remembering back many years ago when I was searching the net for like minded people I came across an article by Joanna and thought, now she seems like someone I can relate to.

    The message comes through pretty loud and clear that certain dispositions/emotional states that interfere with productivity (among other things) – is something that should be dealt with. This could involve anything from not conforming in specific ways at school (possibly bringing about a label of ADHD etc) to grieving too deep and long.

    It also can include reactions to physical problems which I was reminded of very recently when the worsening physical symptoms I had been suffering from for some time prompted a referral to a neurologist where I am still undergoing tests. In the meantime I am finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the very physically demanding job I have. I told the neurologist of this and his suggestion was that I take antidepressants. I felt rather insulted by his proposal for a few reasons, not least because of its invalidating overtones, and of course, the likelihood that it may do me more harm than good.

    Although I find his suggestion troubling due to current agendas etc (I turned the offer down) I suppose there are some who still would nonchalantly see this as being practical – just another way to ‘help’ with my immediate dilemma where I presume the intention is to alter the state of my mind to ‘better cope’ with/mask what I am experiencing.

    (I liked your article too Robert)

  • Steve, I agree about (a lack of) communication skills.

    Any contact I have had with the mental health field has left, at the very least, a sour taste in my mouth. One particular interaction with a psychiatrist some 30 years ago had such a profound effect on me just through the words he spoke. Stereotypical perhaps, but absolutely true, this psychiatrist sat opposite me in his big chair and while sucking on a cigar pronounced that I was “a sick, sick girl and would have problems all my life” – these words have haunted me in varying degrees even since. There is so much I could say about this but just generally it is so easy to see why things have gone the way they have.

    About 10 years ago I put together my thoughts on the subject – part of what I wrote is the following –

    One thing that did help me was to look at all my ‘deficient’ labels I have accumulated over the years and then ask myself why it bothers me so much. Apart from the battering to my self esteem, I feel it goes much deeper than this. When you think about it, you only seem to take notice of the finished product of all the various aspects of what makes up this thing called your mind. I see perhaps, that it is made up of memory, emotions, intelligence, imagination, personality traits, influences from within and out and many more. The final product is this strange, and I suppose unique entity I call ‘me’, my self-hood, the presence inside my head. When a psychiatrist tells ‘me’ in a non-specific and generalized way that I am a ‘sick, sick girl’, presumably it is my mind he is referring to. I can’t help but take it as a judgement of my entire self-hood as I am not consciously aware of what makes up this self-hood – in my everyday functioning I am only simply aware of ‘me’. I can acknowledge, when reflected upon all the different aspects (as above) but even if reflected upon I cannot grasp and nor do I have the means to examine how all the intricate details combine to form my ‘mind’. Therefore I am very vulnerable to suggestions from ‘experts’ about the state of my mind as I acknowledge my ignorance and can only defend myself by ‘gut’ feeling, whereas they supposedly come from a position of knowledge.

    This ‘knowledge’ to me, is really quite vague, but ironically, it is this vagueness that makes it very difficult to confidently disregard what is said. If I went to a GP and told him of a specific problem but was told there were all sorts of things wrong with my body that I felt not to be true, I would be in a fairly confident in questioning his ‘diagnosis’ and competence that can be proved if need be due to the more easily verifiable nature of physical problems – but this cannot be done with ‘mental illness’. Unless someone has a true verifiable neurological condition or their behaviour is so disturbing that it is obvious there is something is ‘wrong’ I don’t see how placing deficient labels on people so carelessly and obviously with so little regard as to the affects on that person, can be truly justified. Even for those people who appear ‘very disturbed’, humility, care and respect should be exercised before dishing out a label. There are far more implications in discussing the ‘pathology ’of one’s mind than there is in the pathology of one’s sore toe.

    My understanding is that psychology, psychiatry, etc are regarded as professions and to me this means someone who has acquired knowledge and skills that the general population do not commonly possess. Once a person has this status in their chosen field they are privileged to both its higher rewards and the higher responsibility that goes with it. At this point the privileged information and skills can either be used to help or harm. Dealing with ‘mental health’ as these professions do, I would suggest a more concrete definition of this profession – the tools of their trade are the words that come forth from their lips. The concepts that are conveyed by psychs through language hold a lot of power and influence over people and because of this they should be held accountable just as other professions are for the help or harm they inflict.

    Simply because of the fact they do hold such power and influence this professions’ ‘tools of trade’ should be elevated to reflect the importance, weight and consequences it has on people’s lives, often for the rest of their lives. It is so easy to deny and be unacknowledged because of its intangible nature and this in turn allows the whole thing to perpetuate. When someone feels they have been harmed by these people it is very hard to say anything – well, no harm done (physical)* so people just walk away and say nothing, they may feel a lot but can do little about it. I can’t help but think that part of the reason things have gone the way they have is because there is no real accountability for what is said. This is part of a much wider cultural attitude that acknowledges and has more sympathy for actual physical damage (including property) than psyche damage – e.g. actions speak louder than words, sticks and stones… or, he hasn’t really hurt you until you are bashed up. This despite the fact that it is only because of our ‘unique mind’ which enables us to understand the concept of justice that can reflect on those bruises and determine that an injustice has been done. Physical violence is rightly condemned but the scales are too uneven.

    (*In no way am I discounting the physical harm caused by psychiatric drugs etc. First and foremost however the physical harm caused by psychiatry etc starts with the way these people think; therefore, in order to eliminate the physical harm the thinking that allows these outcomes to occur must be changed).

  • I was just wondering if any of you good people can help out here. I have been waiting for an appropriate article to come up to air my concerns and thought maybe this one was suitable. I’d also be interested to know whether any one of you have come across this before. To me it is just another problem caused by psychiatry etc.

    My 60 year old divorced brother is having issues with his two grown up children. It all started when his daughter did a psychology course at uni (which she did not finish) and this led to a fundamental change in perceptions. The son was both influenced by his own ‘research’ and what his sister had to say (these children still live with their mother). What has transpired in the last 18 months appears to be a form of coercion in the sense that these grown up children have analyzed their mother and basically urged her to ‘accept responsibility’ etc for things that have happened during the marriage to my brother and in her own family life. The mother’s position/reactions have been defined as passive aggressive, being in denial etc and this would depend on whether or not she accepted what they said.

    Even though divorced my brother has for a number of years periodically stayed with them and recently he was given the same treatment. Among other things, he too was accused of ‘being in denial’, passive aggressive (more so than the mother), emotionally distant, a narcissist and so on. Although he acknowledges the difficulties in the marriage etc, his reactions/non-compliance were not acceptable to the children to the point where they turned him out of the house. The mother is seen as being ‘compliant’.

    He is quite upset by all of this and doesn’t understand. He doesn’t mind talking in context and in everyday language about these things but the pervasive authoritarian like psychological perspective by which his children now interpret whatever has been said and done has become divisive and detrimental.

    A last point is, up until now my brother has generally got along well his children and I saw this for myself, he was involved in their lives from babyhood, encouraged them and overall did the best he could.

  • So many interesting posts here and thanks Jennifer for your reply to my earlier comment. On one level I get what some are saying about ‘choice’ and ‘catastrophising’ when used in a somewhat rarefied context. However when it comes to people’s lived experience this context can seem rather disingenuous. With both it appears that often no real consideration is given to actual perceptions/circumstances/driving factors. So with the former all that counts is what ‘choice’ is made and with the latter, ‘realism’ seeks to overwhelm perceived hysterical thinking.

    In relation to the former, perhaps in many situations it would be better to say they were reactions rather than genuine choices. Although I mentioned a few things before about my life it was of course a very incomplete picture. In my younger years I also developed panic attacks and agoraphobia which were quite disabling and lasted 8-9 years. Due to this experience I became acquainted with the catastrophising and choice dilemma. I can’t go into much detail about my experience as there are many aspects to it so I will just focus on the two mentioned. Although I understood the motive to use CBT, overall I had trouble accepting what seemed to me was a denial of and trivialization of the genuine distress and complex problems caused by recurring (and often severe) panic attacks/agoraphobia; especially if it took time to find out what the problem was and by then it could be well entrenched (which was my case). The reality for me was I had to quit my job, I lost all independence to the point where I couldn’t even go to the shop on my own and at 21 this to me was a catastrophe, I lost all confidence, self respect and so much more.

    Although theoretically there may have been ways to avoid/escape this problem, at the time I didn’t/couldn’t see it, it wasn’t available to me and that was the reality I lived – all I knew is what I was experiencing and from within myself I tried my best to overcome it. I don’t see quitting my job etc as being real choices – they were reactions to circumstances. As for making out that people catastrophize the effects of panic attacks etc (and therein lay the problem – wrong thinking) – well, let them experience this problem at full force and see how they go. I doubt anyone would become a virtual prisoner in their home against their will without good reason.

    I eventually overcame it mainly by being with people who were like me and by using my own inner resources (I used no drugs). The key thing was we truly respected and understood each other and didn’t trivialize the difficulties each was experiencing. One lady who I became close to had been through the mill of psychiatrists, drugs, ECT etc and was worse off for it. As difficult as it was I am glad I didn’t go down that path.

    I feel that in many instances of suicide maybe it is more a reaction rather than a genuine choice and I believe this was so in my brother’s case. That doesn’t mean the person was incompetent it just means they are acting from a (variously defined) inferior position which I think is the reality for a lot of people.

  • I can relate very much to this from both sides of the fence. My brother committed suicide when he was 33 years old, I was devastated but the response from others was essentially that of silence so I not only learned yet another hard lesson about people and life but I also had to once more deny and bury my feelings.

    I made a vow to myself many years before to avoid like the plague the ‘Mental Health’ profession and not just psychiatrists. I innately knew from a very young age (14) that there was something very wrong about the way the whole set up operated after my experience (among others) of being in their clutches when I could no longer cope with being bullied at school (long story that I could say so much about).

    After making somewhat of a comeback from all this, my life again took a nosedive in later years when my marriage deteriorated. Due to the particular troubles I found myself homeless for a short time and this led to me being temporarily placed in a women’s shelter. It was all very stressful for me, I was far away from home, I missed my son and I knew nobody. I was then transferred for 6 months to a women’s refuge. During this time I tried to get a grip but inwardly I was very insecure and frightened. I then had thoughts that I would be better off dead and knowing my brother committed suicide, this actually made it a little bit easier to think that way. I stupidly shared my thoughts with the lady in charge who I sometimes had conversations with. Well, that just prompted her to say it was ‘her duty to inform authorities’ and I couldn’t talk her out of it. I was then taken to hospital. I was kept in the emergency room section where the staff kept an eye on me, There was no one really to talk to as the emergency room staff were busy doing other things so they hardly said anything to me except that I could not leave and that I had to wait for the next day to see someone. I felt awkward and frustrated and didn’t know what to do with myself all night.

    The whole thing was so contrived and once again I had to deny and bury my real feelings. I knew also that I had to play the game, act ‘normal’ etc otherwise I may not get out of there the next day. All it did was further cement my feelings toward this bankrupt system that suppresses and punishes rather than liberates through genuine care and understanding which is all I was ever really after – a need so simple yet so seemingly impossible to feed.

  • I have to say I am a little bit amused by this – but only at my end – not for the troubles you have experienced from the attack. It seems I came back to the site at the wrong time after not accessing it for quite a while. I just happened to read (at that very time) the article by Bruce Levine as I enjoyed reading ‘Commonsense Rebellion’ some years ago, therefore I might have initially been thought of as part of the attack.

    I do come back occasionally to this subject as there is still a spark of interest in me after many years of being passionate about it a long time ago. I just basically gave up because of there seemingly being not much support for alternate views (at least here in Australia at that time).

    It’s much better now however with the internet, Facebook etc as people can access endless information and connect with others who share similar views.

    When I read the current articles I felt right at home, nothing has changed in the way I think about it.