Monday, 16 June 2008

One last update to "Strokes of insight and blind spots"

A reply to Anonymous' comment on my first update on "Strokes of insight and blind spots":

I thought, I'd leave this alone. I changed my mind after I read another account by someone who has directly experienced NAMI's discriminating practices.

a) I definitely will read the book. And, just as definitely, I will do a piece on it, especially if I find, that I was wrong.

b) Some facts about NAMI:

- NAMI, just as mainstream-psychiatry, is extensively sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. It is no longer a secret, that NAMI between 2003 and 2005 received about three million dollars from Eli Lilly for downplaying the risks of Zyprexa. And alone in the first quarter of 2007 NAMI received 544,500 dollars from Eli Lilly. Correspondingly, NAMI advocates pharmaceutical "treatment" for people in emotional crisis with substances that provenly shorten the life expectancy of those "treated" with them, cause brain damage, especially at long-term, "maintenance" use, that have a chronifying effect on the course of the crisis, thus drastically reducing the chances for recovery, and that have several other serious and sometimes life-threatening "side"-effects. In other words: NAMI advocates the drugging of people with life-problems with disabling health- and sometimes even life-threatening chemical substances, and, as a matter of fact, the organization has shown itself to be open to bribery.

- NAMI primarily is a support organization for relatives of people in emotional crisis, although people in emotional crisis themselves are also welcome as members - though not always at NAMI-meetings, apropos of "Nothing about us without us!". This implies another conflict of interest, in addition to the above mentioned financial one: Often family members are part of the problem. The medical model efficiently covers up this part of the problem: "It's not our responsibility, it's your genes and brain chemistry that something is wrong with." In consequence, NAMI exclusively advocates the biological model ("the mentally ill", Jill Bolte Taylor's "schizophrenic" brother,...), leaving no consideration to psychological/social causes, although these, as mentioned, are at least as, if not more, likely to be the cause for emotional crises. There is no evidence for neither of these theories. Yet, there is a lot more circumstantial evidence in favour of a psychological/social cause, than there is in favour of a biological one. However, since there is no evidence, the only honest thing to do would be to allow both theories the same amount of consideration, and to offer real choice to people in crisis. Unfortunately, this is not NAMI's politics. Just as it isn't the politics of the mental health system in general. There isn't much "grassroots" about NAMI.

- Further, NAMI supports discriminating programs such as Teen Screen, the Mother's Act, and organizations like Treatment Advocacy Center, that advocate "assisted" (i.e. forced) outpatient treatment. A slogan like
"Nothing about us without us!"
in this context becomes meaningless.

c) If Jill Bolte Taylor really took the role I recommend, and showed true compassion for her fellow human beings, she would, as the president of NAMI Greater Bloomington Area, distance herself explicitly from NAMI Indiana, and NAMI in general. She does not do so. Her note at NAMI Greater Bloomington Area's website states: "I LOVE NAMI".

If Jill Bolte Taylor had true compassion for her fellow human beings, she would distance herself explicitly from labelling people's life problems as "mental illnesses", "schizophrenia", "bipolar disorder", "ADHD", you name it. She would distance herself explicitly from labelling people as "mentally ill", "schizophrenic", "bipolar", etc. She does not do so.

As indicated, her not doing so implies that Eckhart Tolle himself would have to be labelled "mentally ill", "severely depressed", though recovered, by her. It implies, that he, according to Jill Bolte Taylor's conviction, suffered from an imbalance in his brain chemistry, that his past had absolutely nothing to do with his development as a human being, and that thus his (and many other philosophers' and spiritual teachers') insight, that emotional suffering is part of the human condition and often, actually as a precondition to it, can lead to enlightenment, is of no value, and indeed an illusion (a delusion of an ill mind??), whatsoever. You can't both have your cake and eat it!

As someone who has experienced extreme states of mind, which the mental health system, Jill Bolte Taylor advocates for, fancies to label "psychosis", or even "schizophrenia", who has experienced the destructiveness of labels - and nothing is indeed more destructive, no label is more negating the labelled human being than that of "mental illness" - , as someone who has seen what the mental health system, Jill Bolte Taylor advocates for, does to people, who has experienced the enormously consciousness-suppressing power of psychotropic drugs (though luckily only once in a non-psychiatric context!), Jill Bolte Taylor advocates for, and who was given the chance to experience the deeper truth of teachings like Eckhart Tolle's - the suffering-part very much included - I don't see true compassion in Jill Bolte Taylor's statements so far.

Which I see in both her and NAMI's statements is a whole lot of (self-)pity: "The horror of mental illness", "The tragedy of mental illness", etc. ("What have we done, that we have to put up with the horror and tragedy of mentally ill relatives?" - This question uttered in a NAMI-context being a purely rhetoric one. Watch Jill Bolte Taylor's attitude when Oprah mentions her "schizophrenic" brother!) While (self-)pity is more like the opposite of true compassion than non-compassion is.


Anonymous said...

Dear Marian,
I look forward to your revised blogpost after you read Dr Taylor's book and see the Oprah interviews with her on Oprah dot com. Dr. T and Oprah refuse to even use the word "stroke survivor" - they call it stroke Triumphant. And my impression of Dr T's thoughts about mental illness overall from her book and the TED talk is of utmost compassion and not labelling at all. I was very saddened and surprised by your blog posting because to me (and I have a close relative with mental illness), Dr. Taylor is doing more to help by far, than hurt or promote labelling or any of the things you are saying. Please read her book and listen to the TED lecture and Oprah video and then please use your important platform to get others to read the book and listen to the TED and Oprah pieces. They have such potential to HELP and what you are doing, with all due respect, is hurting.
Sincerely, Kathy Lee (last name omitted)

Marian said...

Dear Kathy Lee,

I know, the intentions are nothing but good. I also know, that people (unconsciously) tend to fear and consequently fight what they do not understand.

Nevertheless, as someone who's experienced which you call "mental illness" - and to my conviction there is no such thing other than if the term is used as a metaphor (I'll immediately change conviction as soon as scientific evidence is found, that extreme states of mind actually are due to physiological illness rather than to a problematic, challenging past, i.e. trauma) - I'm again and again extremely saddened, though not surprised (since I know about Big Pharma's power), by NAMI's as well as mainstream-psychiatry's politics, which do hurt innumerable people for the sake of financial profit (and social control). And, mark my words!, I am very much aware of, that this is not a person like Jill Bolte Taylor's conscious intent. Nonetheless, it is a fact.

I have watched the Oprah interviews. They provided the basis for my initial post. I also watched the TED Talk this afternoon, following your recommendation. What I found was an even more pronounced repression of any other cause than brain biology to possibly be the cause of emotional crisis, than I'd observed in the Oprah-interviews.

Jill Bolte Taylor suffered from what without any doubt, scientifically proven, is a physical condition whose treatment with just as little doubt has to be physical (i.e. surgical/medical). Nonetheless, no one would have dreamt of subjecting her to forced medical or surgical treatment the moment she'd rejected it. Her own treatment decisions were fully respected.

Once again: there is absolutely zero proof of which the mainstream, NAMI included, labels "mental illnesses" to be physical conditions. None of the almost 297 psychiatric diagnoses in the DSM IV is in fact anything else than a moral judgement of an individual's behaviour. Nonetheless, millions of people worldwide are forced into physical "treatment" as soon as they find themselves labelled "mentally ill", although these "treatments" provenly do more harm than good. And, which is even more appalling to me, these people find themselves in a position, totally deprived of any right to self-determination once they are labelled "mentally ill". Their choices are not respected. They themselves are no longer respected as equal human beings by their surroundings. Others make their choices for them, on the basis of their conception of the "mentally ill" individual. Not on the basis of the individual's own conception of him-/herself, as this conception is interpreted as "ill" and thus worthless. Unless, of course, the "mentally ill" individual's self-conception is in complete concordance with the mental health system's conception of him/her, that is. Especially in regard to so-called "severe mental illness", "psychosis", this mostly is not the case but subsequently to the individual being subjected to massive and often very intimidating indoctrination as well as subsequently to the individual being forcibly drugged into a state of mind more or less detached from the true self, from the true essence of their being, by mental health staff, supported by relatives.

Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality for those who end up in the mental health system. No however pitiful and pathetic language can cover this up. Still, I do not say, that this is done on a consciously intentional basis by the individual mental health worker or relative!

Marian said...

P.S.: Maybe I shouldn't listen to radio shows while typing ;) "pitiful" was meant to stand in quotation marks in my above comment: full of pity. The DSM IV lists exactly 297 diagnoses, not "about" 297. And here's the link to the TED Talk, for everyone who wants to watch it: