Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Comments by evewc18

Showing 9 of 9 comments.

  • My take is that unless you’ve been in a similar situation of having to call 911 because you feared for the safety of your child and family, you have zero right to judge the parents. I know that a lot of the commenters on this site never waste an opportunity to blame NAMI and the parents, but this is a new low. Can we instead have a productive conversation about how we can keep this from happening again? Not just a theoretical debate about dismantling psychiatry–what can advocates do RIGHT NOW to raise awareness about this issue and create/support efforts to address it with police departments, communities, and families?

  • I’m sorry, but I can’t agree with anything you just said, and the quotation marks are wearing thin. You have every right to define your own experience, but dismissing a person’s very real history of illness and pain so off-hand is nothing but stigma, plain and simple. Attitudes like yours are hurting people. Whether the symptoms are caused by biological or environmental factors, they are real and pathological. I’m getting a strong troll vibe so I’ll end it here, but quite frankly I’m disgusted.

  • I get the argument, but I don’t find it productive. To me, that kind of castigation reinforces shame and trauma. We can’t have it both ways–if we’re solely blaming the parents for their children’s mental illness, then we need to recognize that they were likely victims in their turn. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take responsibility for whatever role they played, but how can that cycle be interrupted, how can any kind of healing be accomplished, if we spend all our energy and time focusing on whose fault it is and not on how the problem can be adequately addressed?

    If we accept the environmental explanation, then we need to be fully appreciative of the pain and trauma the parents experienced, not just in the interests of being humane, but because ignoring that, or meeting it with nothing but judgment, reinforces the feedback loop. More often than not, parents are wholly unaware that they’re passing down their trauma. We can be cognizant of that and meet them with patience and the will to educate, or we can be contemptuous and say, “Well, that’s her problem.” Which do you think will yield better results?

    This lady has been through hell and from what I could tell she did everything she could think of to help her son. All she seems to be getting for that from this community is derision. We’re recreating the very stigma that perpetuates this stupid cycle. I am shocked and saddened by it. We are not going to help anyone or accomplish anything meaningful if we put snark ahead of empathy and ideology ahead of individuals.

  • addendum: I had a friend in high school who began showing signs of schizophrenia in high school, and his father also had that diagnosis. His family left him pretty much to his own devices from his adolescence on, in part because his father was too ill to properly care for him. He was in no way overprotected, smothered, or told he couldn’t take care of himself.

    There is a BIG difference between seeking out causes and looking for someone to blame.

  • I think you’re misrepresenting what I said about family involvement in treatment, which in no way claims that family dysfunction causes mental illness. We can have that “chicken or the egg” argument for days and not get anywhere. I will say that if we’re going to claim that the causes of mental illness are entirely environmental and that the family is usually culpable, then we also need to acknowledge that this is most likely an intergenerational problem passed down through trauma, upbringing, etc, meaning that pointing our finger at the parents and painting them as the villains is reductionist and misses a chance to actually address the inherent problems in the family.

    I will say that while I don’t have a lot of experience with schizophrenia, I am highly skeptical that a grown man was walking around defecating in his pants simply because his parents smothered him.

    None of us knows what happened in that family; can’t we too be accused of projecting if we jump to conclusions?

  • good point, but I also understand why she is so fiercely attached; her son hasn’t been able to function and take proper care of himself. I cannot begin to imagine the pain that woman feels, and I think she’s demonstrated through her efforts and level of passion and frustration that she does actually care about the well-being of her son. Do I think it’s fair for her to blame Whitaker for her son refusing to take his meds? From where I’m sitting, no, but I certainly understand her doing so. She accompanied her son to a NAMI convention to support him and instead ran into a roadblock. Imagine how frustrated, terrified, and angry she must be at this point.

    I think everyone who participates in the med debate, myself included, needs to be mindful of the ramifications. Going off one’s medication is a delicate undertaking that can be disastrous if done too quickly. I wasn’t there, but I hope/assume Whitaker stipulated that people shouldn’t just throw their meds out the window. That absolutely, unequivocally must be stressed before any professional presentation on the subject.

    I’ve been misdiagnosed and over-medicated. I’ve also been properly diagnosed and found a med combo that stabilized me enough that I could come back to Earth and figure out what had been going on in my head and how I could turn things around. Shrinks have screwed me over, but I seriously believe that the shrink who properly diagnosed me saved my life. It’s like cops, or any other authority figure: there are good ones and bad ones, and flaws in the system that need to be addressed.

  • With all of the research supporting family involvement in treatment and recovery, I think it would do her son a disservice to simply sever him from his mother. People manage better when their families play a positive and active roll. If that can be achieved, I’m confident that that would be the best course of action for mother and child. As for the family dysfunction, I don’t see how a family could be anything but dysfunctional in the face of so much stress; it doesn’t mean that the mother should automatically be written off.

  • First and foremost, it is fallacious, not to mention callous and unfair, to attack the mother who authored that letter for being a bad or abusive parent. We might not agree with her decisions or conclusions, but this woman has obviously been through hell, and I doubt her suffering will be ending any time soon. Her experience is unique, we don’t know all the facts, and attacking someone who, like many of us, has spent decades trying to get help for a suffering loved one, is at the very least counterproductive. I personally find it monstrous, and I wonder why we’re so eager to attack each other when we should be striving for empathy and support.

    Instead of assassinating her character and playing “bash the system,” how can we help her, and countless others in her position? Isn’t that what we as a community should be primarily concerned with? If not, what is the point of all of this?

    Knee-jerk reactions, blanket statements, black-and-white thinking and extremist positions–none of this is helpful, whatever end of the spectrum it’s coming from. If we are truly concerned with helping others who share our trials, we need to let the ideology go and have a real, nuanced, thoughtful discourse that recognizes differing viewpoints.

    The antipsychiatry movement has much to offer. It can provide much-needed critique and checks to a branch of medicine with an egregious history of human rights abuses and a problematic (to say the least) relationship to Big Pharma. It can shine the light on alternative modes of treatment, give voice to those who were abused by the system, and demand accountability from the medical community and pharmaceutical industry.

    But the extremist language and rush to judgment evinced by many comments on this thread do more harm than good to both the movement and the individuals we supposedly wish to help. What’s more, they squelch opportunities for the very kind of discourse Whitman calls for. We can’t adequately discuss this issue when we’re painting all of psychiatry as a bunch of “goons,” and we aren’t going to be taken seriously by those outside the movement.

    Medication is not a black-and-white issue. Few things in the mental health field are. Each of us has our own experience and it is dangerous, not to mention hubristic, to act as though our own personal stories are universal. Medication has ruined lives; it has also saved them. Until we appreciate and respect that, we’re not going to get anywhere, and we recreate and reinforce stigma within our community. We don’t need to march in lockstep, but we need to respect each other and keep an open mind to differing views and methodologies if we truly care about improving the lives of people who share our struggles.

    If that is not our primary objective, then we’re no better than Big Pharma.