Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Comments by Isis

Showing 29 of 29 comments.

  • I’m sorry, I really don’t mean to be rude but I’ve no idea why I’d email a complete stranger for ‘support’ or why you feel it’s appropriate to say this to a woman to you don’t know on public threads. It’s unwelcome and a unboundaried.
    And, no, I won’t be commenting on M.I.A. in the future. I don’t even visit the site any more. This article was circulated on Twitter as an example of how not to talk about trauma survivors.
    I have emailed and asked for my comments to be removed from the site but, as is the way with M.I.A., they don”t get back.
    I’m not interested in debating the merits of the article of of anything related to it.
    Please don’t respond to this msg, if you don’t mind and lets just leave it at that.

  • M.I.A. won’t even exist at a not too distant point in the future as it has no idea who its audience are. It’s chock full of this kind of ‘clinicalisation’ of human experience. Many survivors read this and felt dreadful. It’s as damning as any DSM roll call of hopelessness and pathology.
    This site is not taken seriously by mainstream mental health or anyone with any power to change systems of oppression. They laugh at it as marginal and wacky.
    It alienates survivors with ‘news’ items about ‘mental illness’ and prints endless articles like the one above where the model or the interpretation changes but the pathology remains.
    The editorial staff curate much of the content and while some of the articles are good, both the writers and the staff regularly ignore critical feedback. Its no different to any oppressive system, its simply a bunch of people who think they’re ‘radical’, but they’re no less interested in the democratisaion of these issues than Rober Spitzer.
    Nobody reads these comment threads and nobody really cares. So I’d find a more productive hobby than debating into a void with people who aren’t really listening anyway. Life is short.

  • It’s just awful stuff and has the same hopeless, damaging impact on those labelled that any DSM speak would have. Trauma informed doesn’t equal pathology free it seems.
    To doom survivors to ‘enduring interpersonal pattern of dysfunctional relationships that persist throughout the lifespan’ is just horrible. What’s worse is that no matter how many times M.I.A. contributors or their own staff are challenged on this point, it’s just routinely ignored.
    I’ve emailed them and ask for all of my comments to be removed and for the posting account to be deleted or for how I can do that myself.
    They really aren’t interested in us, we’re just the non people that get endlessly labelled, analysed, discussed and objectified. I’ve had enough.

  • I find so much of the content on M.I.A. to be baffling in that it gives with one hand and takes away with the other. You CANNOT challenge the validity of psychiatric labelling while simultaneously applying the same pathologising language to do so.
    To refer to a weeping and abused 16 year old as most likely facing into a future of further dysfunction’ you are compounding the worst type of stigma by the language you choose to use.
    If you begin by referring to ‘a child subjected to emotional abuse or neglect’ by following it up with the statement that they ‘inevitably fail to function adaptively within relationships, to regulate their own emotions or develop a coherent sense of self’ you are compounding the same pathological view of traumatised people that the worst kind of mainstream psychiatry holds.
    The reality is that many who have labels like ‘borderline’ are being further harmed by the blatant refusal of ‘critical’ professionals to challenge their own practices of also pathologising traumatised populations. Because what is being referenced above is a DSM stereotype of a ‘borderline’ and does not accurately represent the lived reality of many who have been smeared with these labels.
    It further damages and dehumanises us to insist, as psychiatry does, that there is some coherent ‘clinical picture’ in what in reality in a hugely heterogeneous group of (mostly) women.
    For those of who attempt to survive despite having had the core of who they are negated and poisoned by abusive language, the least you can do if you really want to be of help, is to not solidify it’s validity by perpetuating it’s reductive view of how people cope in the aftermath of trauma.
    We are human beings and we are all different. Stop lumping us all into these stinking piles of ‘dysfunction’ under the guise of ‘helping’ us.

  • “I should point out here that I employ terms like BPD, depression and PTSD because they are still so widely used, even by relatively enlightened researchers and practitioners. I do not consider them as states or diseases, but as disabling strategies for dealing with deep psychic pain, especially trauma, loss and mourning” Oh dear, here goes nothing…
    Historically many of the most pernicious smear labels used to objectify and dehumanise have been defended in the same way. It’s an apologist narrative and one that isn’t tempered by declaring how well meaning you are.
    The narrative of labels like depression and PTSD are almost entirely constructed as either an illness or a response to traumatic event/events that befall the person. They happen TO someone. They lay no blame with the individual and they certainly don’t call into question the ‘goodness’ of the core of the person they’re applied to. Whatever the etiology of these ‘conditions’ is theorised to be, the one thing mainstream and critical approaches have in common with regards to these two labels is that they are never said to be the fault of the individuals character or moral make-up.
    Not so with the ‘BPD’ label, remotely. Nowhere, and I mean NO where is the term ‘BPD’ used by anyone who understands it’s history, function and impact on those it is employed against.
    It is of course regularly used by the ever expanding ‘treatment’ industry that surrounds it. Entire careers are built on the backs of distressed women to help them learn to ‘regulate’ themselves and be good little (adult female) girls. Because it’s overwhelming women it’s applied to, or gay men who are deemed exhibit ‘feminised’ forms of distress. Although aggression , fast driving and promiscuity (which form a portion of the Chinese menu style check list of ‘borderline’ psychopathology) are conversely celebrated in men, gay or straight.
    Your claim that these labels are used by the ‘relatively enlightened’ is entirely incorrect. Burstow herself has spent decades deconstructing and laying bare the invalidity of misogynistic smear labels like ‘BPD’.
    I find it totally unacceptable that MIA continue to platform this smear label as if it’s validity is still up for debate. It’s even more worrying that this is repeatedly done by male contributors and male editorial staff who otherwise self identify as ‘critical’. Worrying but not surprising unfortunately.
    The ‘borderline’ label doesn’t require that a woman employ ‘disabling strategies for dealing with deep psychic pain’. It only requires she be female, non-conformist, non-compliant and/or distressed/’angry’/challenging the shrink. Women have had this applied for attempting to bring sexual harassment suits in working environments. It has been used to invalidate testimony in cases of child sexual abuse and sexual assault and as leverage in custody battles. It is a profoundly dangerous label that can be expanded to an alarming degree to pull people into the net of inclusion.
    The comically named ‘high functioning borderline’ alleged populates the ranks of high powered law offices and investment banking, wreaking havoc on her poor unfortunate (male) colleagues.
    The descriptions of these destructive creatures reads like a drunken John Grisham channelling Oprah. The internet is chock full of creepy people who are self declared ‘experts’ at helping the rest of the world spot/manage/control/sue/divorce these femme fatales.
    Van De Kolk for all of his humour and irreverence, didn’t listen sufficiently closely to his colleague Judith Herman when she described ‘BPD’ as ‘little more than a sophisticated insult’.
    For all of his brilliance in the area of childhood trauma, he lacks any political critical analysis of labels like ‘BPD’. Not everyone, by a long shot, to whom this label is applied is lacking an ability to ‘regulate’ themselves emotionally. In fact, the very idea of emotional ‘regulation’ as an ideal is a highly subjective and almost puritanical notion.

    If writers/academics don’t understand the label’s deeply political motivations to silence and pathologise women, then perhaps they shouldn’t write about it at all until they’ve done the research.
    Because it is a direct descendent of ‘witch’ and ‘hysteric’ and is employed in much the same way today. It renders the recipient entirely non credible and is such a total double bind as any attempt to argue back against it’s application only compounds it’s ‘validity’ in clinical settings.
    After all, what’s more ‘borderline’ than an unruly, non-compliant female who argues with the nice doctor eh?
    To be blunt. It takes a special kind of privilege blindness to come onto a site like MIA as an aged, white, professional, male and defend your right to employ slurs while claiming to be an ally.
    I’ve no doubt you’re well meaning but it’s no longer enough; for the dead and the irreparably traumatised by the brutalising involvement of psychiatry in their lives.
    As for the ‘survival’ of psychiatry… *sigh*… The cure for that particular delusion would be to sit down and read Burstow’s new book.

  • Hi Corinne,
    Thanks for this, very clear and informative.
    I know very little about this class of drugs but it’s significant the amount of overlap there is with SSRI withdrawal.
    Regarding your comment that SSRIs cause brain injury, what is this induced by and how can it be addressed?
    I am planning to discontinue citalopram after 7 years of use and I’ve been on one SSRI/SSNRI or another for 16 years now.
    I’m extremely concerned about my memory, cognitive difficulties and emotional numbness that may be related to this long term drug use.
    Is there hopeful literature or studies compiled on the withdrawal and repair process?
    I’m hoping there is. Were you referring to any study/research in particular when you referenced SSRI induced brain injury and if so could you refer me to them.

    Thank you!

  • Thank you for the spectacularly patronising reply. It’s impressive that editors of a site like M.I.A. could so eerily model the kinds of responses that folks normally only receive from consultant psychiatrists!
    The fact that you feel it necessary to clarify the aim of the site, as if this is something critics of specific content don’t understand, is unfortunate.
    Including links is just unnecessary and rude.
    If you’re only comfortable in asking readers (many of whom are survivors) to “add their voices to this discussion” as long as it doesn’t challenge your editorial ‘authority’, then it’s a hollow invitation.
    It’s obvious that certain editors at M.I.A. don’t sufficiently understand the politics of the survivor movement or of critical practice.
    It’s disappointing but not surprising as few of the contributors have lived experience themselves and this has shown up in flashing neon in the tone of the responses given.
    So, you keep posting psychiatric ‘news’ items about ‘PD’ and other non existent ‘illnesses’ and don’t worry about the damaging message this sends those harmed by them.
    Way to have a conversation about ‘rethinking psychiatric care’!

  • Hi Rob,

    While in theory it may sound perfectly fine that you are posting such content in the news section to ‘simply summarize or highlight aspects of what other people, researchers, or media are saying’, in practice that’s not what occurs. Many of us are seeking a safe space online that is free from pathologising language and stigmatised identities.
    It’s evident to me as a survivor reading some of the reposted psychiatric ‘news’ content that there is a lack of insight on the part of certain editorial staff as to the painful impact it has.
    The PD labels in particular are extremely pernicious and have done some of the most severe damage of any of the labels in the DSM/ICD that I’ve seen. People very often simply can’t recover from such iatrogenic damage.
    Much of the writing on labels like ‘borderline’ fits the profile for hate speech. Were you to substitute the term ‘Black’ or ‘Jew’ where you read ‘borderline’ in 90% of the online content for ‘BPD’, it becomes starkly obvious just how pejorative and malignant the label is.
    I therefore don’t feel articles like the above warrant inclusion in a radical/critical mental health setting.
    It’s damaging and largely unfair and the responses I’ve received so far upon raising this issue have been unhelpful and defensive.
    It would be considered entirely inappropriate to suggest that opposition to the inclusion of racist or antisemitic content in an online resource for people that had been harmed by these smears. was simply ‘reactive’ attempts to ‘shut the conversation down’ by ‘demanding expressions of fealty to one ideology or another’ as a previous MIA news editor suggested when I raised this issue.
    I feel it’s the same for those of us who are recovering from the trauma of psychiatric labelling, most particularly the PD labels. It begs the question of whether resources for user/refuser/survivors can ever successfully be curated and managed by by those with no lived experience of the issues involved.

  • Hi,
    I actually have to say I also find this a very problematic aspect of some of the content posted on MIA.
    For people who’ve nearly been entirely destroyed by these particularly pernicious labels, the editorial staff need to think carefully about how, and indeed why, you report on such studies/articles.
    I queried this before abd revieved a spectacularly patronising and condescending response that actually quoted Clinton. I kid you not, it was worthy of a shrink.
    Also, coming from a male content contributor to a female, about a notoriously misogynistic label, it was very off.

  • Good God. What a thoroughly depressing and doom laden read.
    I certainly hope it’s possible to withdraw from SSRIs without being permanently disabled.
    After 16 plus years of use and preparing to withdraw, I’m not sure that you’re aware of the impact this kind of article has to cause utter hopelessness.
    There are many instances, not easy granted, where people have successfully withdrawn from psych drugs and flourished, not least Laura Delano the co-founder of this site.
    So, please, employ a little protective caution when laying people’s futures out.

  • Hi Kermit,
    I don’t wish to be unduly critical but I find your comment very worrying “What interested me here is that the authors seemed to start out with the intention of differentiating bipolar and borderline, while acknowledging their apparently common connection to childhood trauma. Nevertheless, their conclusion seems to nod to the possibility that all three have “an integrated behavioural, aetiological and neurobiological” provenance. This has long been my view.”
    Am I completely confused in thinking that the role of M.I.A. is to challenge to dominant thinking about distress and how it manifests in the lives of those who experience it?
    But yet here we have an reporter’s comment that gives validity to psychiatric labels, both of which are problematic – one extremely so. You further go on to support the unscientific psychiatric jargon and then inform us that the stance of the paper has long been your view.
    You later comment that you “think impulsivity is initiative with a diagnosis”. I’m not sure I can even decipher what it is you’re trying to say in that sentence.
    I find this to be extremely problematic given that you don’t remotely approach the content from anything resembling a critical perspective.
    Or perhaps I’ve wandered onto the APA website by mistake.

  • Hi Kermit,
    I’m wondering why M.I.A. is reporting ‘news’ of a study by Joel Paris (a psychiatrist who has built his entire career on a misogynistic hate label that pathologises women in distress) giving commentary on Linehan’s money spinner DBT (a psychologist/Uncle Tom who has built her entire career throwing survivors under the bus). It seems a little out of keeping with the ethos of the site. Unless of course validity is being given to the ‘diagnosis’ (label).

  • Yes, I think a lot of smart folks can identify with what comes under the heading of ADHD.
    I’m glad you don’t feel shamed any more and it’s lovely to hear your GP was so supportive.
    Sami Timimi makes the point that all interactions with a person have the capacity to be therapeutic and that this isn’t the preserve of one group of workers within a service. It’s comical and slightly tragic that so many consultants see their role as ‘diagnosing’ (labelling) and ‘medicating’ (drugging) and that the talky feely stuff is for the psychologist.
    Incidentally, Sami Timimi (who seems like a very nice fella) specialises in the field of what is termed ‘ADHD’ and co-edited a collection of writings on the subject. He would certainly be a good person to even meet to chat with were that possible. He seems to be based in Lincolnshire.

  • Dear TenaciousMe,

    Please don’t feel ashamed. It’s probably the most corrosive, painful, and utterly futile emotion. The only thing it does in your case is indicate that you have been badly mistreated, no?
    You have nothing to be ashamed about. You write very well and you’re laugh aloud funny in parts which shows resilience. They love that word – resilience. It’s all about resilience building they tell folks!
    Well, I call bullshit on that to be honest. I think cracking up and fighting back is a legitimate response to life at times.
    But here’s the thing. Many people make the decision to totally disengage from services as to stay plugged in does more harm than good and in certain cases can be lethal. If the ‘help’ on offer is shaming, coercive, violent and pathologising then it might be in someone’s best interests to work towards putting alternative supports in place (however scarce) that enable them to move towards disengaging with a system that is abusive.
    If there are certain aspects of a service a person wants or needs then I would advocate they don’t let deliberately provocative behaviour from consultants or staff take that away from them.
    The sticky thing about shame is that it attaches to all of the worst things we think and fell about ourselves.
    But here’s the thing – even if someone has behaved in ways that they themselves would rather they hadn’t, it has happened for a reason. I think we’ve all been in a place (I know I have) where we think ‘I wish I hadn’t said/reacted/responded/like that’, but it’s important to separate bad tempered shouting at a cold caller or being less than polite to a frustrating bank teller, from distress and overwhelm.
    Distress is not a maladaptive response. It’s a valid, understandable, and logical response to life events and experiences.
    What really is pathological is the demand for people in distress seeking help to be passive in order to be helped. So, let them say you’re floridly paranoid and unnecessarily litigious. My alternative undiagnosis is that you were unnervingly articulate and assertive and they had a bit of a tantrum. Albeit through the medium of the DSM.
    Don’t le the bastards grind you down! (and maybe write a blog, folks would certainly follow it)


  • Hi Lucy,

    Yes, you’re right of course, everything would be so much easier in a community of survivors.
    The reality is I would disadvise anyone from outing themselves as having received this particular label, which sadly leaves many even more isolated.
    It has been used against women not only to invalidate their testimony in cases of sexual violence and historical child sex abuse but to deny them child custody. Dana Becker has written on this specifically.
    It’d also be career suicide in many ways, unless like Clare Shaw, you work as a trainer /activist and write professionally in the creative field.
    If I’d sat down and dreamt up a more damaging and dangerous construct for women in distress, I’m not sure I could top ‘borderline’! What’s almost comical in a black hearted sort of way is that most women who have been unfortunate enough to have received this tag have lived through what many would never survive only to be told they have difficulty ‘regulating’ themselves.
    I think the most valuable thing I could do would be to set up an online resource to support women in undiagnosing themselves and reclaiming their place in the human family.
    But maybe if you were inclined you might write a post that speaks directly to the issues I’ve addressed.
    Namely, how to begin to recover from or address living with a concealed stigmatised identity or self stigma that it’s not possible to publicly reveal. Because even if we reject the label, read critical material, accept it’s scientific invalidity – it still has the capacity to do untold harm to how we view ourselves and the choices we make. Intimate relationships are impossible places to hide trauma in but the risk of revealing a past history of psychiatric labelling of this nature, to me seem too great.
    I know many cases of women simply frozen in traumatised isolation as a result of it. Reading about online you come across these scenarios frequently.
    But, finally, I realised recently what sets this demographic of survivors apart and you’ve nailed it above.
    It attacks one’s very core, the essence of who one is. No wonder so many labelled as ‘BPD’ can’t identify with the survivor community’s focus on biopsychiatry. Many of them would only have loved to be told they had wonky brain chemisty but instead were told they were mad/bad and sad with broken ‘selves’.
    Anyway, on a brighter note, I hold out much hope for formulation. To be honest, I can’t think of anything I’ve encountered that makes more sense.


  • Hi Lucy,

    Thanks for this. I am very interested in your work in this area. The iatrogenic trauma that I have witnessed with regards to specific labels has been significant, most notably with the uniquely pernicious and oft feared ‘borderline’. Despite it being invalid, unscientific, subjective, gendered, and biased – it is if anything increasing in use.
    If a label resembles little more than hate speech and is used to the same effect against an often vulnerable group of women – can it ever be justified? I would argue not.
    The greatest harm done is often the internal self stigmatisation which is a complex and painful process to undo, for even the most intellectually able person. In fact, it would seem there is nowhere to turn to counter the damage and women are left to simply cope with the aftermath alone.
    There’s a considerable body of research that clearly outlines the harm experienced by those who receive the label , but very little literature for how to recover from the trauma of that labelling.
    How is the loss of self, hopelessness and shame that many experience to be addressed?
    I think a very important question within the wider area of refuting diagnosis is, what do we do when the damage is already done?