Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The Salvation Syndrome

Since I tagged yesterday's post with "Salvation Syndrome", I will have to explain what I mean by that.

Well, I've been wondering for quite a while what it might be which makes people in crisis believe psychiatry were an institution established and maintained in order to help THEM, while it seems quite obvious to me that this institution was established and is maintained only and solely to help everyone else than the person in crisis. That it was established and is maintained in order to help protect society from disturbed (by society) and, far more important, disturbing (society) elements.

Among other reasons, which I will return to in a future post, I arrived at what I called "Salvation Syndrome" - for once making use of an almost psychiatric categorization and terminology. I hope, I will be forgiven!

To illustrate the concept, I'll quote from a reply to my own contribution to the ect-debate - actually my debut at the Danish users-magazine "Outsideren" - that ran in the magazine some time ago. My, rather nasty, remarks in brackets.

"The psychiatrist on duty didn't know me, but so did the charge nurse. The psychiatrist considered me to be ordinarily sad (incredible! "Ordinarily sad"! How CAN he!) and was ready to send me home. The charge nurse, though, didn't like my condition and wanted to observe me for 24 hours (yah, the charge nurse KNEW K., and KNEW what K. needed and desired). Soon it showed that I was developing a manic delirium,..." (It was a close one, but thanks to the charge nurse, K. anyway was admitted entrance to the holy halls of psychiatric power, where she hastened to display all signs, i.e. "symptoms", necessary to qualify for salvation, i.e. "treatment", and thus was redeemed from having to go through her personal version of the profoundly human, though also, admittedly, painful and saddening experience of facing feelings of inner emptiness and meaninglessness.)

There you've got it: the Salvation Syndrome, or: "Save me from having to be an aware and responsible human being!"

In fact, I've never observed a choice of words more related to salvation than K.'s. "Half-unconcious as I was, I nevertheless heard the confidence inspiring voice of nurse F. and the whistling of the air in the corridors that felt like swan wings to my cheek", K. describes being taken to the ect-room. A strangly artificial and almost biblically picturesque language.

Well,as suggested above, I don't doubt that K. was sad, deeply sad, and in real great pain when she went to the psych emergency. But unfortunately, K.,too, during earlier contact with psychiatry had bought into its pseudo-solutions to her sadness and pain as the only possible and valid ones. Just as people accept the advertising industry's message, that you can become a personality by buying an "Invita"-kitchen, achieve freedom by a wireless i-net connection, or experience real life by having a Coke, they accept psychiatry's message that you can escape having to deal with your emotional and existential problems, that you can escape having to be a human being by buying into its diagnoses and "treatments". What all these messages fail to tell you, is that their pseudo-solutions for your needs and desires, because of their temporary as well as alienating nature, inevitably will create an ever greater need and desire inside you that will make you ever more dependent on the puffed goods. All the while you are told that the growing pain, the growing emptiness and meaninglessness you feel because your needs and desires never really are satisfied, is due to a chronification of your "mental illness" and thus requires even more goods, i.e. diagnoses and "treatment": Have another Coke, or two, or three... and be saved, once more.

K. ended up receiving 11 ect-"treatments" in one week. She's convinced that it "saved her life". Today, she is one of psychiatry's and ect's fiercest advocates in Denmark, giving lectures "about the course of the illness ("bipolar disorder") and electrostimulation's effectiveness", and she's been asked to write a book about her experience. The Danish Kitty Dukakis.

I don't doubt that ect saved something for K. But I'm not at all sure, if this something was her life.

1 comment:

Jane A said...

"There you've got it: the Salvation Syndrome, or: "Save me from having to be an aware and responsible human being!"

simply awesome, You have some real gems on your blog from before I was reading it M.

I know a guy whose depression simply vanished after sliding off icy roads into a tree. A concussion with minor amnesia was all it took to 'cure' his 'illness'.

Perhaps he should write a book about the wonder of head trauma and the curative powers of a brain injury.

Maybe Pdocs can set up a crash test vehicle that will accelerate patients into a wall for those that don't 'respond' well to ECT.