September 4, 2012 at 11:49 am #18350AnonymousInactive
I agree. Simply crying out NO like any other assault victim does not seem to work against the brain rapists who call themselves psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses.September 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm #18352
“brain rapists who call themselves psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses” That is a very apt description.
In my mind, this is where postmodern relativism comes in handy. By identifying the body of ideas/beliefs that allow/support atrocious acts against humanity, and understanding the landscape of those ideas/beliefs, one can then begin to consider what might be most effective in dismantling them.
Yes, the simple solution would be for governments to enact laws (and uphold them) that protect people from psychiatric assault. However, it seems that the people who create legislation are just as misled (thanks to lobbyists and people like E. Fuller Torrey) as the stigma-driven public. So, even in calling for legislative/policy reform, one still has to deal with the lousy~>harmful~>fascist ideas that surround the mere phrase “mental illness.”
(A phrase that, itself, ties right into the belief that people who are experiencing difficulty that could be framed as psychiatric are “out of control” “dangerous” “foolish” “delusional,” etc. – all ideas that support the paternalistic/punishing use of force.)
In the (multiple) times that my right to refuse was violated (in disgusting ways), I noted the irony of the fact that saying “No, I don’t want that.” seemed to reinforce the idea that I must have what they intended to give me, and that – in saying “No.” – I was subjected to further restraint, both physical and chemical. This is not to suggest that people shouldn’t say NO. This is simply to acknowledge that saying NO seems to reinforce the belief (in the minds of the “brain rapists”) that “someone has to take control of this person.”
I talk with folks a lot about shifting worldview – getting from there to here (illness~>wellness, fear ~>hope) and it seems like being very realistic about what sort of dreadful and diminishing ideas we are dealing with (and how they integrate into the psyche and the meaning that is made of people and circumstances) is a fine place to start in our considerations of how human rights can be protected. In the minds of those operating from fascist biomedical worldviews, we have no rights. In fact, we don’t know what we’re talking about. We’re crazy. They don’t have to listen to us.
This is why it seems like the efficacy of protests is pretty weak. They don’t listen, they dismiss the collective voice as if it were the voice of some stereotyped ranter and raver. They compartmentalize us.
So, what do we do…?
I think personal dialogue is a good place to start. One must keep in mind that – in the minds of force/coercion practitioners – some may feel that they are “doing what they have to do.” In their minds, their hurtful actions may even be experienced as valiant, righteous.
(I know I’m making a lot of assumptions about what some practitioners might think/feel…but, I think it is important for us to think about what motivates the ideas behind abusive actions. I doubt that many practitioners think of themselves as “brain rapists” and will likely not listen to anyone who calls them such a thing, apt descriptor though it is. In my mind, it seems that if we want them to recognize and respect our humanity, we may have to make an effort to recognize theirs…? I firmly believe that most people do not wake up in the morning and think about how much they want to hurt people.* Helping people to see the truth of their actions, and inviting them to reckon with that truth in ways that don’t shut them down in defense of their own distorted self-concept, in ways that resonate with important core human values – kindness, love, goodwill…?)
(Yes, this is all starting to sound like psychotherapy for fascist minds…that’s something I’m interested in.)
*admittedly, this may be naive.September 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm #18356AnonymousInactive
“I doubt that many practitioners think of themselves as “brain rapists” and will likely not listen to anyone who calls them such a thing, apt descriptor though it is. In my mind, it seems that if we want them to recognize and respect our humanity, we may have to make an effort to recognize theirs…? I firmly believe that most people do not wake up in the morning and think about how much they want to hurt people.*”
I don’t believe people who use violence want to hurt people for the most part. People who rob a gas station are thinking about money, not the attendant who is going to wind up with a PTSD label. People who rape sexually are usually thinking first and foremost about setting some sex. Nazi stormtroppers were mainly thinking about what was their idea of “cleansing” their Germanic homeland in preparation for a thousand year Reich. Nazi doctors, were feeling pity and trying to put people out of their misery when they committed the genocide against people with psych labels.
Maybe the occasional sadist who wants to hurt people, a serial killer, or a something, but not many people get up in the morning intending to be evil.
But prison is full of people who have nonetheless done evil acts. So I focus on the acts.
The thing about the brain rapists is, they may have been easier to fight before hundreds of millions of people fell for the antidepressant lie. Now there are millions of people who gladly get into bed with the brain rapists, and because so much consensual brain altering is going on, very few people who are in to that sort of thing, understand what the problem is with brain rape.
It’s like a cult where the leader sleeps with all the women, and then one woman says no, and the others say “but he’s such a good lover, what’s your problem?”.
People who are content to let these tin-pot fake doctors tinker around in their brains with toxic drugs, simply believe psychiatry is a great lover, they can’t understand why anyone would not welcome a chance to get some of that great brain action they believe psychiatry has to offer.
You said “In the (multiple) times that my right to refuse was violated (in disgusting ways), I noted the irony of the fact that saying “No, I don’t want that.” seemed to reinforce the idea that I must have what they intended to give me, and that – in saying “No.” – I was subjected to further restraint, both physical and chemical. “
Well of course. No means yes. No means brain disease. Why would people who don’t even think you’re fully human listen to a human word or a human plea for mercy?
You’re lucky you weren’t killed. Props for surviving.
Plenty die from positional asphyxia during domination, which is my word for “restraint”.
If you do die from positional asphyxia, they leave your corpse in the quiet room, call the Coroner, and go have a coffee. Then you get put in a body bag, and like all the other people who have been manslaughtered during domination/restraint, a mortuary worker writes your name on a toe tag, and that is the last time any human from the government does anything about it.
Then usually, the dead person’s parents are stonewalled when they try and find out what went on during the attack. But saddest of all, as that casket is lowered into the ground, the parent usually believe if it wasn’t for nature hitting their adult child with a dreaded psychiatric “brain disease” their kid would still be alive.
What does it feel like to have even your relatives believe you are a defective brain?
This mess, this psychiatric belief system, is much bigger than brain rape. It decimates every facet of people’s lives.
I find it helps to imagine what you funeral would have been like if you’d have died before you escaped psychiatry. How this invasive virus of defamation and stigma would have shaped your memory, even to your closest friends.
It helps one grasp the magnitude of to what degree not only has your brain been raped, but how your humanity was raped too.
Have you ever been to an online memorial site for the dead? They are all over the internet. http://www.virtual-memorials.com/ is just one example.
If you spend some time reading these things, you’ll see time and again, heartbroken comments from the loved ones. “Bipolar took my son”, “Schizophrenia took my daughter”…. etc.
And it becomes patently clear how much psychiatry’s belief system infects society.
It boggles the mind to think that even my relatives would believe such crap about me if I died. It’s awful. Awful.
I’d be spinning in my grave, defined by quackery.
And then there are the families who donate their dead loved one’s brain to psychiatry for research, don’t get me started.
There is a pattern of well-meaningness, that hides so much horror and atrocity.September 4, 2012 at 5:16 pm #18359
This reply should be full of quotes – (but it’s not…)
That made me feel something. Wow.
Yeah, that’s pretty much the situation…though I’ve not ever heard it expressed in such brilliantly encompassing terms. Really. I’m not being sarcastic. (There is another problem with trying to communicate anything online, in text…people get the wrong idea about syntax and sincerity and read the wrong tone.) THAT WAS
FUCKINGBRILLIANT. I mean that as a compliment and as a double entendre, because you really did peg (another force word that implies swift and thorough pinning down of one thing upon another in a way that identifies it or holds it in place) the way that forceful and coercive psychiatry establishes a very inappropriate relationship in their treatment of “patients.”
In addition to some grosss romantic domination/subordination game, there is some really insidious codependence going on (they need us to be sick so that they can feel useful or otherwise profit – this extends to all abusive systems of power and commerce…they keep us sick, and lured into sickness…)
(Okay, sorry, I can get a bit sweeping and enthusiastic when I FEEL SOMETHING. Wow. That seems really emphatic. It is a big deal though. Usually, because I find outrage to cause me to spend too much time writing and, um, being outraged, I try to temper it with some good ol’ fashion compassion ((nice slogan…)) per “recognizing their humanity…” However, the real bottom line – and this what I referring to in the bigbigpicture – is that systems of distorted meaning have seriously screwed up our ability to even know what’s what, to make up our own minds in ways that aren’t hurting ourselves or other people…and that really pisses me off, as a human being, with compassion for other human beings that have gotten really tragically confused in the past (yearsandyearsandyears…though really not so long)…)
(I mean, I’m not even really that upset about what happened to me. I mean, hey, I wouldn’t have this great story and insight that I’m gonna somehow use to really put a dent in the legitimacy of medical model psychiatry, among other things. I mean, yay for me. I survived. I’m a bit disgruntled, because, you know, years and years of medical model treatment and paradigm, mixed with the side effects of medication, the various traumas that stem directly from my experiences with psychiatry, and the totally wrecked sense of self…well, yes, all that is very interesting…I still feel better than I have in years.
However, I’m super-pissed about all the people who don’t realize they are trying to survive, and I’m super-pissed about the people who have died, and all the beautiful, brave, BRILLIANT people that got wrecked by bad ideas and abuse. I’m very sensitive to cognitive dissonance…and I’m tired of living in a world where people lie so much that they don’t even realize they are lying. For money, of all things. Deep breath.
How do drugs that obviously make people sick somehow seem like they could be used to treat anything? How in the world did psychiatrists who only meet families once or twice then become the expert on what might be necessary for their child? (How in the world do people figure that some guy, because he has paper on his wall and tells you he knows what he’s talking about…how does he get the right to tell you who your kid is or why they are struggling, to give your kid a brain disease and tell you that you have to force them to take drugs that…I mean, really, what.the.
f*ck? One of the things that gest me most is the power that psychiatry has to supercede parent’s judgment. I mean, who said their word was law? Oh, yeah, they did. They turn human beings into tragedies, sad stories, things that nobody speaks of.)
Well, clearly this whole thing is very triggering to me. As well it should be…
Hey, would you ever be interested in recording your voice speaking those words you wrote and maybe helping me (i.e. supplying words and voice and giving me feedback on image and text?) to make a video of some sort? You could – of course – stay Anonymous. I really like your words. I guess the only good thing that the massive psychdrug explosion has done is allow for sweeping generalizations of millions of people in their relationship to a cruel and dirty industry. I mean, do you know how many survivors there are that don’t even realizing they’re trying to survive…? They just think they are living their small, confused lives as people heavily medicated for severe and persistent mental illnesses that, really, don’t even exist in the way we are told that they exist.
I guess this was all-over-the -place.
Feelings, you know.September 4, 2012 at 5:32 pm #18361
I don’t believe people who use violence want to hurt people for the most part.
(yeah, I know I first made that optimistic surmise…but…)
Actually, if you think about the forced rhetoric and action of war and street violence, and even the more subtle forms of violence within families…there is a lot of evidence that either straight-forward consciously (“I’m going to kick his ass. I’m gonna punch his face in.” even those sentences read as violent) or subconsciously, “You’re a disgusting, embarassing wreck of a human being, I wish you didn’t exist. Here, take your meds.”
…yeah, a lot of people probably do wake up wanting to hurt other people, in order to satisfy some imagined need…power, control, denial of association, glory. It’s really a pretty big problem, this people wanting to hurt other people. Which is probably one of the drivers of human distress…because hurting and wanting to hurt people (worse feeling like we have to hurt people, “for their own good.”) conflicts with our core values of, um, not hurting people. Then we go to the psychiatrist because we’re depressed and angry and anxious and the psychiatrist…yeah, it’s just all very violent…
Sad.September 4, 2012 at 6:40 pm #18369AnonymousInactive
I’ve spent the past 24 hours scream-style writing in my notebooks about “rights” and “wrongs”. I’ve filled 4 notebooks, broken 4 pens and bled through two others.
What right have people had to extract, collect and withhold information that is not theirs and does not belong to them? What right do people have to not give and not provide? Is it because people will not act unless a law FORCES them to? And that if it isn’t a law, the mentality is “you can’t make me, and I don’t have to”?
Nobody has made an offering to me. Nobody makes or provides EASE. I have commented before about the vitality and necessity of feedback (response). You could not believe the magnitude of the silence I have to endure. I am treated “as if I don’t even exist”. What right does anybody have to deny me?
I am deprived of that which is rightfully mine: MY LIFE. My life is existence, and it is a torture. Which reminds me:
“Truth and Reconciliation”. I find it stupefying and shocking that it takes *torture* to produce those two revelatory words. Torture is the method that is used to produce information. Who derives? Who gains? Who benefits?
I’m still alive, unreconciled.
2. To settle or resolve.September 4, 2012 at 7:28 pm #18373
HI mjk – thanks for writing…I think I appreciated the angry, clear poetry of your words the other day. Just for kicks, I went back to the archives and pulled some excerpts from the 6 or so posts I made on September 4th a couple of years ago. Yeah, I was really trying to get people to listen, as well. It was maddening. I even put my phone number online and was seriously begging for someone to please just tell me that I existed. Nobody ever really did. The screwed up thing was that I had this feedjit thing on my old site at the time, and it told where people were viewing from and there’d be days when fifty people read my pleas to get in touch, to please just someone get in touch, someone say something, anything…and nobody ever did. Except a woman who said she was a refugee. We kept in touch for a month or so, until it finally became clear that she may be a con artist. Still, it was nice to have someone to write to.
Anyway, I think that it is some weird thing that happens online (and in real life) when the people who are reaching out the strongest, with the most earnest sincerity, are often ignored…I don’t know why that is.
Anyway, I just wanted you to know that you are not being denied. Your voice is important. Do not throw away the notebooks you are filling up. Do not burn them. Hold onto them. Keep writing, but try to rest when you can.
I hear you. My email is in these old excerpts. Feel free to write. I’m pretty good about writing back.
I like how you’re looking at words, splitting them into distinct meaning. That’s one of my favorite things to do.
portions of 09/04/2010
“Haha…maybe part of the consequence for being JERKS for the vast majority of my life is having to deal with me. Thanks for everything you taught me. Assholes. Seriously. Arrogant and cruel.
You have NO IDEA how little I give 1/2 a white rat’s ass what about what ALL YOU MOTHER FUCKERS THINK. That’s right. I said it folks. Now I am over being indignant and ask kindly for forgiveness in momentarily rejoicing over the FACT that I AM NOT CRAZY, I AM NOT WEAK…AND I – above all else – AM NOT SELFISH.
Nobody is explaining anything and that is NOT OKAY. You are letting me do this alone. Perhaps…it just occurred to me that I am pretty much completely doomed. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I never asked for this shit. I just wanted to be able to draw a horse.
Since nobody gives a damn, here’s a pretty rockin’ Metallica song. Fairly relevant. Hahahaha
Good thing I was written the way I am…otherwise I’d be totally flipped out. The only thing that REALLY flips me out, is how little folks seem to care. That and the part I will talk more about a little later. Once I know people are listening. AGAIN [email protected]
I am quite reasonable. I am not insane. I am, in fact, probably one of the most sane people in the world. Really.”
MUCH LOVE to you mjk.September 4, 2012 at 10:42 pm #18383AnonymousInactive
Here is what both you and I are (not) saying, in Michelle Obama’s words:
“because I have what most families don’t have, is tons of support all around, not just my mother but staff and administration. I have a Chief of Staff and a personal assistant, and everyone needs that; that’s what we need. (Laughter.) Everyone should have a Chief of Staff and a set of personal assistants. (Applause.)”
Here’s the complete transcript of her speech: http://www.momstowork.com/05/08/michelle-obama-on-work-life-balance/
I was homeless (with my three kids in foster homes) when I heard ONLY the part in quotes on the TV at the public library. I remembered her words (they are permanently burned in my mind) and googled them. I was thrilled to have found the transcript (which has a permanent home on my Facebook page). To me, her words are torturous – torturous because although she gave me the exact correct words, there is absolutely NO WAY for me to ever apply them or ACHIEVE.
With my Medicare card, I go and meet with a counselor or therapist or psychiatrist or psychologist … and NEVER ever do they truly support or care or “treat”. I was “court ordered” to receive “counseling” at yet another clinic and at the intake I said, “I could help you way more than you could ever help me”. The woman smirked at me with that insinuating expression that I was “delusional” and she said, “yeah I know, a lot of people say that”. I said … “Then a lot of people are trying to tell you something”.
Instead of dealing my own personal needs, problems and issues, they always get set aside because I’m forced to have to “study” and “learn” the PROBLEMS OF A BROKEN AND FAILED SYSTEM, which becomes the demanding priority.
I feel like I would very much like to continue some more, in “getting across a message of human rights”.September 4, 2012 at 11:38 pm #18385
To me, her words are torturous – torturous because although she gave me the exact correct words, there is absolutely NO WAY for me to ever apply them or ACHIEVE.
I know what you mean…sort of…it sounds like you’ve been through hell. I had my kids away from me for a bit and that can do something to a person, wreck them in some core way. That was my experience. Then to go into those awful rooms, under those fluorescent lights and fill out their forms and see the smug faces and, me, I could feel what they were thinking…the way they looked at me and right through me…
“Faith, we’re concerned about your emotional stability.”
“Has it occurred to anyone that the way I am being treated is not particularly good for my emotional stability?”
Then the smug smile. Pure condescension.
Sadly, the only thing to do is jump through the hoops. You’re right. It’s exhausting and sad and frustrating.
It’s funny, it was in the process of near-losing my kids – and just really being bullied and scorned by system and community, full of unmet needs and facing a dearth of resources to meet those needs – that I began to get super-focused on the sick, sick systems. I had always loathed them…and by always I mean since I was a kid…I was never good at ignorance…I have always understood cause and effect…so, when my whole world fell into shambles and turned on me snarling, it was so clear to me what was to blame. These awful, cruel and diminishing ideas that so much of our world is built on. It all became quiet clear, and when people were telling me, “You have to focus on your kids…” I tried to explain that I wanted the world to be a place where my kids would be safe and be loved (even as people who are neurodivergent in their own right) and that it would be a place that would not hurt them – or any kid – and a place where quirky mad moms could be seen clearly and honored as intelligent, kind, creative. To me, the only way to achieve that – in my mind at the time and also somewhat now – was to dismantle the systems that had created the abuses that hurt people. It really was pretty logical.
There are a lot of people working to try to change the systems…as there have been…
You know what I’ve been thinking might be really helpful? That idea about brochures in waiting rooms…Whitaker material, stuff from other orgs, writings from Icarus…
It’s getting late and I am not going to stay up all night writing. I’m going to go to sleep.
MAD LOVE and hugs from one mother to another. I’ll be sending some hope. some ease your way. Feel free to be in touch anytime.
One thing I figured out solidly in my navigations was that if I let the systems destroy my hope, my will to live, my ability to see beauty, my sense of strength and self-worth…well, then they win. It is entirely possible that defiance – and the desire to prove them all wrong – kept me alive for a while.
Stay brave. Love.September 5, 2012 at 7:14 am #18409
@Faith, [apologies– I am way behind in this comment thread, so this is in response to something you wrote a few days ago]
I’m right there with you when if comes to frustrations around perpetuating the us/them paradigm. I see our human rights movement not so much as “”We” need to oppose “them” until they crumble”, but rather, “”We” need to help “them” to see that in truth, it is “us”, and we are all equal”. Of course, opposition, defiance, and the standing of firm ground are vital to making this happen— I am most definitely not saying that we shouldn’t be protesting, writing, organizing, and bringing to light the countless injustice and oppression that the mental health system inflicts— but in my opinion, the end goal shouldn’t be “”They” have finally come to accept and respect “us””. In any us/them dynamic, inevitably there will be power struggle, with those with more financial, legal, and political resources usually coming out on top. Those distinctions, and their application to emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, need to be discarded altogether.
To me, I think of MLK’s quote, “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.” It will surely take time, but somewhere down the road, psychiatry’s operatives will see themselves as akin to their “patients”. And, of course, I yearn for the day in which the psychiatric profession will no longer be relevant to our society at all, and the profession as a whole, with its pseudo-medical/scientific labels and claimed “expertise”, will fall away from the social discourse entirely, but that’s obviously a further away dream…
I see how idealistic this is, and don’t want to pretend otherwise. We can’t forget that women still struggle with oppression, as do people of color, and people who identify outside of the heterosexual realm. However, the end goal of “brotherhood”, or, let’s say, siblinghood, is what I believe we should be waking up every morning with our minds, our hearts, and our voices oriented towards. And not the siblinghood of, “Oh, well I have that sister with the “mental health struggles” but I love her dearly!” I mean, “I look to men and women around me and see myself as a part of this human family, each of us unique and different, with our own experience of reality, and none of us better or worse.”
Off to my first NARPA conference!! Woohoo!
LauraSeptember 5, 2012 at 9:55 am #18411Ted Chabasinski, JDParticipant
Laura, doing away with “us” versus”them” is a great goal, bu to think that the people who run and benefit from the system now are somehow going to be converted to friends..it just isn’t going to happen.. You quote Doctor King’s famous “dream” speech, but remember King also consistently fought not just racism, but the actual people who practiced it. Bull Connor (the police chief who set upon civil rights demonstrators with dogs and water cannons) was never converted into a friend of the people he attacked.
I hope some day we can have the kind of society that both you and me dream of. But I really don’t anticipate that people like Doctor Biederman are going to become our friends.
I can see this strange contradiction that a lot of people seem to have that is getting us away from what we need to do.
People write about the horrible things that were done to them by psychiatry. Then they say, of course we shouldn’t be angry (even though they obviously are.).
What’s wrong with anger if it is focused on the people who deserve it? From where else is the energy we need to fight the abuses of psychiatry going to come?September 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm #18450
I’m really digging this thread. That I get to read these words, internalize them in my heart and my spirit, and feel the flood of anger, love, passion, sadness, and connectedness— what an unbelievable gift. @Faith, I’m right there with you in feeling so united with my own inner potential to make change alongside all of you— so much so, that I sometimes feel like I should pinch myself to see if I’m really just trapped in a dream.
And to @mjk, yes, silence as a response to the courage that comes from letting out one’s inner pain can be the loudest insult. Especially when one’s own connection to Self is so damaged that the inner voice saying, “You are here, you are human, you are a part of the greater sea of humanity, YOU EXIST” is either too quiet to hear, or no longer trusted, a learned distrust from those “experts” who’ve told us we can’t trust ourselves. But, like @Faith, I am here too, for you, for all of us together who’ve awoken from the toxic, deadly spell of psychiatry and want to help others do the same.
I should say that participating in forums is a new thing for me, and one I wish I had all day to do. Carving out time in my day to participate in them more fully is something I’m trying to do. So a lack of written response, on my end, does not mean that I don’t have one, or don’t want to give one. Being a connected part of the human race, giving my feelings and thoughts to others and reciprocally taking in theirs, is a new thing for me.
Indeed, Michelle Obama is right. I feel the same way as she does— That my family was there for me, and never gave up. That I never got sent to a state hospital, or was forcibly shocked. That I was able to find a powerful community of people to carry me until I could carry myself when I got sober from alcohol. That there are like-minded people near me in the Boston area whom I get to be with ‘in person’. These are all unmerited gifts that I have, that I didn’t deserve or have any right to. The fact that not everyone has these supports is something that feels me with deep pain. A dream of mine is to create a free support network, similar to 12-step recovery, for people who are recovering from the trauma of psychiatry. Just like two people started the first 12-step program and it has now spread across the world, I believe we can do the same. That’s one of my great hopes— free, unconditional, reliable love and support from people who’ve shared in the same pain and who’ve reconnected with their spirit and heart. No profit motive, no power structure, no forced belief system of any kind, beyond a belief in our capacity as humans to find meaning, purpose, and connectedness in life…
You know when you’re sitting still, and suddenly a surge of physical pressure and emotional pressure come to the surface of your being as you connect with that intense anger, disgust, sadness, and frustration that comes from thinking about the state of our collective humanity and its belief about what it means to think and feel? When I feel that surge come on, I’ll sometimes turn to my mind for some sort of resolution, as though if I think about it enough I will figure out just how things got so profoundly, profoundly warped and distorted. I’ll start asking myself questions like, When did this mess start? Was it with the birth of psycho-pharmaceuticals? No, somewhere way before. Maybe the birth of the diagnosis? Or the birth of psychiatry as a medical institution?
Of course, there have always been ‘healers’ of some kind, which I guess implies a sort of “expertise” of one person over another, but I see shamanic/spiritual “expertise” as something very different than the “expertise” of the modern medical model of “care”— in my experience, spiritual “healing” has brought me back to myself, to my agency and my human potential. Medical “healing” of the emotions, on the other hand, stripped me of those things, disempowering me.
When did “healing” go from being something that rekindled an inner power within the individual, to something that put that flame out? When did we forget that to be an individual is to be an expert on oneself? When did society become spellbound by psychiatry, indoctrinated into its insidious, soothing message of “Shhh, there now, it’s OK, we’re going to take care of you, you can stop fighting now”? I remember the moment in my own life when that happened— 18 years old, desperate for an answer to my emotional pain, convinced I’d exhausted any and all paths towards figuring it out. That’s what it means to become “mentally ill”— to give up ownership of one’s self, one’s agency, one’s unique expertise, one’s right to exist, to simply be, as @mjk says. But when the hell did this surrendering happen at the societal level?
And of course, the answer we are striving to find here, is, how do break the spell of psychiatry so that each and every person out there under it— millions upon millions of people— can awaken to this fact? More than that, how do we reignite that fire in us as a society so that we WANT to take agency back? This is one of the saddest realities— that psychiatry strips us from the desire to be human agents in our lives; it becomes too daunting, too tiring, too painful, too silly to even try. It is when we find a way as a movement to awaken the spark, which we here have felt reignite, at the mass level that we will dismantle the institution of psychiatry. As @S.A. said a while back, we need to carry this message at the level of the heart. But a question for you all— speaking for myself, when I was on psychiatric drugs, I was disconnected from my heart… From my spirit… From the memory of a life with agency… How do we carry a message from the heart to those who may be blocked from their own?
@S.A.- A few days ago, you said something that totally hit the nail on the head. It’s a message I am trying to carry in writing my blog, and that I think is a really powerful one for us all to carry. You wrote, so simply, succinctly, and perfectly— “The message could be— “ This could happen to anyone.” Yes, yes, YES! This is so crucial— the absolute arbitrariness of this system. The fact that my anger at age fourteen— adolescent, human anger experienced by nearly every fourteen year old— was guided to the attention of a psychiatrist (and I will say that I know my parents were doing what they thought was best for me, so absolutely no grudge there) and immediately labeled as “mania”, thus beginning my relationship to “bipolar disorder”, is a totally random, arbitrary thing. Who knows, maybe that psychiatrist was feeling really insecure about her medical identity, or was in a bad mood and felt like asserting her authority over a young child to feel more confident about herself, and that’s why she labeled me that day. Or, maybe a pharmaceutical rep had just visited her the week before to tell her about the exciting promise of Depakote in teenagers, and that’s why she decided to diagnose me, so that she could justifiably put drugs in my system (which, thank GOD, I fought for four years). There’s no sense in trying to figure it out, beyond noting that that one, momentary decision to diagnose me as bipolar undoubtedly changed the rest of my life, and it was a decision based on opinion, subjectivity, and false science.
We need to keep talking about this, and what more effective way than through the telling of our narratives, which is exactly why I’ve been doing it here. The more we can show, through storytelling, the path down which we went (whether willingly (or so we thought) or forcibly) into psychiatry, the more we can humanize it. The more we talk about the contexts of our lives— whether it be trauma, environmental stressors, puberty, isolation, loss, etc. etc. — the more people will start to reconnect with the fact that none of these experiences are “symptoms”, but rather human reactions to human experiences. Wow, I’m feeling really pumped up right now as I write this! Very excited. Adrenaline pumping through me. I love that I’ll be at the NARPA conference later today.
Anyways, there’s so much more I want to write now, especially around the beauty of the conversation that’s unfolding here. @Anonymous, as usual, your words aligned themselves tremendously with my own feelings and beliefs. I love the idea of psychiatry as the “great lover”. I willingly (or so I thought) turned myself over to it, hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after year, because I was enraptured by it and convinced it would make me feel OK one day (I’d give up on my hopes of ever feeling happy or good), if I just kept holding on.
And of course, I’m brought right back to the memories of people from my past who are dead. You and I hold different beliefs about the impact that psychiatric drugs have on our actions— I believe, for example, that I never would have tried to kill myself had I not spent all those years continuously detached from myself and blocked from my heart by those drugs, and of course too by the ingrained hopelessness that came with being labeled— and this, of course, is OK. I completely respect your opinion, just as I’m sure you respect mine. Neither is “right” or “wrong”, and each is informed by our own accumulated minutes of time spent here on this planet. I know several people who have killed themselves, whose bodies were brought out in body bags by coroners and dropped at the hands of their families to be taken care of, while at the same time, their “treaters” put their heads on their comfy pillows that very same evening, thinking, “Boy, was her illness treatment resistant.”
I also think about those who are still breathing here on this earth, whom I sat next to day after day and month after month in DBT or CBT or “anxiety management” or “interpersonal group” or “illness management” or whatever the hell else I was in for all those years; their spirits were lost years ago, maybe when they were first diagnosed, or maybe when they were first drugged, and now they walk this earth as lost souls, dragging tanks of “treatment” and “meds” at their sides, sucking through their masks as though like it was oxygen. I hold faith and hope in their capacity to come back to life, of course— I hold that hope in each and every person who has ever been labeled and drugged.
@Faith, as always, I love your passion and your writing— it’s like I’m write there with you in conversation. Especially when you said “how many survivors there are that don’t even realize they’re trying to survive”… That is such a conundrum— how when you’re in the middle of the drugs and the diagnoses and the “treatment”, you have blinders on to any other way of life, and it becomes your “normal”, any hint of contentedness, productivity, or hopes for the future a distant dream from another time. And so important to bring up violence in this context— labeling, forcibly (or even not forcibly) drugging, and telling a person they have a life-long disease that makes them different from everybody else is existential violence— against the soul, the heart, and the spirit. It is murder, even, although now that I think about it, I don’t think so, as I believe that a person can reawaken. Maybe it’s more like putting someone in a coma. That, to me, is a more hopeful way of thinking about it— always a chance at coming back to oneself.
We must speak loudly and firmly and determinedly in saying that there is no such thing as “mental illness”, clarifying that saying this doesn’t mean we don’t believe that the intense or unique experiences aren’t real, but rather that slapping this label upon them only takes away from their realness. We must speak loudly and firmly and determinedly that the pills society is putting into its collective body are not “medications” but psychoactive drugs. And we must declare that the love and trust a person says he/she feels for his/her “treater” is not true love or trust, but learned helpelessness and desperation. And we must say all these things by sharing our own stories, and never declaring that we know what another person’s reality is. It is through the power of identification that we will make change— not through the power of forcing others to see what we want them to see, even if we have their intentions at heart. That is vital to this human rights movement— that we don’t perpetuate a power dynamic of finger-pointing and declarations of Truth, but rather, that by connecting through our humanity, those out there still spellbound will awaken on their own to their agency and their truth.
Phew! Enough out of me.
LauraSeptember 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm #18452
I agree with everything you’ve said, and I’m confused about where you’ve interpreted me as saying that I don’t think people should be angry… I’ve definitely never said that, nor do I think that there is anything wrong with anger— I think anger is an important emotion, one I know I feel a lot of, and one that drives change and transformation. Speaking for myself, I channel my anger into my writing and into the support networks I’m in with other people who have had similar experiences. So, do let me know if/where I somehow gave you the idea that I don’t think anger is good to feel, as I surely don’t want to be sending that message.
I tried to be clear (apologies if I wasn’t!) that by quoting MLK’s speech I was summing up an ideal that I believe we should be striving towards; this does not mean I think we should simply all sit at a table together as siblings tomorrow. In my last paragraph, what I described is how I see the mission of our movement— to bring society to a place where we don’t see each other as categories, compartmentalizations, classifications, each of which deem a person more or less worthy to be a part of the human race. The road to getting there, I full well know, is not going to be easy, or without tremendous pain and pushback and further oppression and further protesting and so on and so forth. What I mean by this ideal is that it is what I keep in the forefront of my mind and my heart when I do what I do; a guiding light, so to speak, that I want to help our society move towards.
I remember passing Biederman once at MGH, when I was visiting someone on a unit. He is very small in stature, and in a hospital hallway, blends right into the crowd. I felt a deep urge to grab him as he passed me, and shake him. I knew that wasn’t the right thing to do, but let me tell you, Ted, the anger I felt towards him (I’ve never met him, so I guess it was more anger towards all he represents), was deeper and more powerful than almost any anger I’ve ever felt
The reason why I keep speaking so much about the dreams I have for us as a movement is because I think we need to orient ourselves towards very clear, defined goals of human equality (which doesn’t mean “accepting” those with “mental health struggles”). You obviously have vastly more experience than I do with working as an activist, and I know I have a tremendous amount to learn from you, especially when it comes to the actual day-to-day chipping away at “The System”, which I can tell you have a lot of experience doing. I do not pretend to have experience with any of this— I am new to my own true, genuine Self, and am still sorting out how to, well, BE in the world! But I do know what my core values and beliefs are for our collective humanity and I’m not going to talk less about them simply because they are lofty ideals. Ideals can’t be all we talk about, of course— and that’s why ‘Beyond ‘Anatomy’ is up and running, so that we can actually implement change inspired by these ideals.
I’ve heard you say elsewhere, or maybe in a phone conversation of ours, that we really need to be making change through the legal and political system. As a person with little to no knowledge of how to make this happen, I’d love to hear more from you about your ideas.
Sending love to you from Cincinnati,
LauraSeptember 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm #18464EmilyParticipant
I’ve been following your posts and have learned much from them. I am enormously relieved to know that there is a sort of movement out there to protest the human right abuses committed in the name of psychiatry. I am totally, utterly, and forever grateful to this site for introducing me to people like you, Laura, Steven Morgan, and Will Hall. I stand in awe of your individual and collective accomplishments. I look forward to all your endeavors.
I want psychiatry to be dismantled. I want it to be taken down. Down to Chinatown. But unlike Duane, who I’ve seen posting more than a few times that “psychiatry is dead”, I think it is just starting to pick up. I know it is spreading like wildfire to kids, the elderly, to prisons, and to developing nations. I know the massive drugging will get worse before we collectively as a society realize the harmful implications of such policies within our governmental systems. I know this because very few people close to me can even acknowledge how damaged I was from my twelve years of “treatment”… if they could have, they would have tried to intervene in some way to stave off the damage.
In the measly year that I have been free of psychiatry I have gained nearly twenty pounds from the anger and shame and stress of trying to collect myself. I do want to forgive and move on because I’m not an activist type and I want a career outside of mental health. I want to rest at night with the thought that someone else is fighting the good fight of freeing others from a life of psychiatry and its drugs and labels.
Thank you for your activism. Please, please keep fighting on my behalf!
EmilySeptember 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm #18473EmilyParticipant
It is my deepest hope that the way to save people trapped as “mental health” patients is with a free 12 step program like AA. At my church there are only two organizations that really advertise their services outside internal programs and those are: AA and NAMI. I would like an AA program with it’s own name that could draw families away from the NAMI model (which is about political power and will never care about the “patients”).
I listened to your radio interview last night and was stunned at how calmly you related your medicated decade. You have an enormously wise and calming presence in this piece that shows me your public speaking skills rival your writing talents. Hallelulah, am I glad to have you representing the former patient team! It also made me wonder that perhaps I should tell you that I expected to have hypothyroidism for life and I took a leap and went off those “meds” too. I had my thyroid retested and voila, it’s regulating itself. I don’t know, I certainly don’t want to be accused of offering medical advice. I just want to say that my lithium induced hypothyroidism is apparently gone.
Hope you have a great conference,
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