Monday, 22 September 2008

Psychdiagnonsense III - jawdropping

I must admit, that my jaw dropped at H.'s (the "believer") comment on my post about psych diagnoses, especially at her reaction to Janie Lee asking: "Do you not think it takes away my dignity, hope, and initiative to do better or be better in life?":

"No I don't think so", H. wrote, "I think, this is a choice of your own, Janie Lee! No matter what excuses and explanations people use to not have initiative, to not try and do better, to not be happy - it's still an individual choice about excuse and explanation. - And actually I don't really care whether the excuse/explanation is a bad childhood, a bad marriage, a psychiatric diagnosis or other. We are all human beings. Equal. Of equal worth. And we choose on our own."

In the following H. expressed that she sees a psych diagnosis as part of one's being as a human individual. Thus, she indicates, the non-acceptance of a psych label equals to the non-acceptance of who someone is.

I replied: "I agree with you as far as it, of course, is an individual choice, whether someone wants to suffer while the stake is on fire beneath them... Alternatively, one can choose to transcend. But that doesn't justify the Inquisition. Far from. Just because we're all of equal worth (in theory). Disregarded belief.

I am not with you in as far as you regard it non-acceptance to reject identification with a label, such as "schizophrenia". It is exactly non-acceptance of who/what a person really is, if such a label is accepted."

In reply, H. contrasts a diagnosis as a negative evil to a diagnosis as just one more detail that makes someone the person s/he is, and continues, that the negative aspect also is strengthened by those who reject diagnoses as such. Since, as she says, the focus then gets directed on the diagnosis, instead of on the person's individual characteristics:

"...persistent proposals about that no - we don't have any diagnosis, and, by the way, my eyes aren't blue, to me is non-acceptance of who someone is. (...)

Concerning people's own accounts, I can find at least just as many, that go the other way round. While they neither disclaim responsibility for themselves nor for their lives. Thousands of people who are happy for the additional understanding they have got for reacting the way they do - without regarding it a pretext for doing nothing about it.


And no, of course no one should accept a narrow view that a diagnosis is who someone really is. (...) ...a diagnosis is only an addition..."

Now what? Is a diagnosis - part of - someone's identity, or isn't it?? I thought.

I started to write, and I have to warn: as it occasionally has happened before, the words took over, and I decided to let them do it. So, if you at any point in the past have experienced trouble following my occasional "flights of fancy", be prepared! (Well, it gets worse, in part 2.) But I guess, I'm excused, as "loose association", "tangentiality", "clanging" (uhhh, I really love this one! I did restrain myself, though), etc. all just are symptoms... of a brain disease. Not of what you thought. - Here's my rant, first part:

Just found my comment on "Måske jeg bare skulle hænge mig del 2" [a post at H.'s blog], that I think also fits very well here: "People want labels. Without them, they don't understand. - As if the labels were to understand!" 

Labels... In theory they're all right, are a precondition for us being able to communicate through words. All words ultimately are "labels" - not the thing itself, but a representative - and thus never satisfactory.

To me, this isn't problematic unless the labels are divided into "good" and "bad" ones, and unless we at the same time identify the thing - everything, people included - with the label.

It is a fact that we in our culture identify things through their names, and take the name for the thing: "That's a tree." instead of: "The name/word for this is 'tree'. " This is which alienates us from the world and from ourselves. Now you may say that it isn't that black and white. But, yes, H., unfortunately, this black and white it is. There's "the right kind", and there's "the wrong/bad kind" in our culture. Even if it is hardly ever stated in a direct way - because that then would be discrimination. Exactly.

I say "in our culture", because in eastern cultures for instance this alienation through language doesn't go just as far. The Chinese language for instance brings out the words' function as representatives, signs, and not as the thing itself, to a far greater extent, both through its structure and written appearance, thus preventing misidentification.

It is also in these cultures that a philosophy is found, that doesn't categorize everything into "good" and "bad/evil": Buddhism. - Though, in its original form Christianity doesn't do this either. The Fall of Man is an addition, that isn't part of the Tanakh. And Jesus was a Jew. - The division into "good" and "bad/evil" is an ego-invention: "I am better/worthier than you." This self-image, this ego-identification, permeates our whole culture, has done so for a long time. It provides the basis for how our western culture functions - not. "Not" because, in the end, it is self-destructive.

To get back to psych diagnoses: all these diagnoses are a result of an ego-wish to be able to categorize human behaviour, human being(s), as "bad/evil" in contrast to which at any given time, and alone on the basis of cultural values, is regarded to be "normal" = "good". So that the "good" can be clearly delimited from the "bad/evil", and recognized as "good" [as western culture, since the Fall of Man, is characterized by dichotomic thinking]. Blue eyes are not a diagnosis, no. But to have dark skin, or being gay, or or or, actually once was.

As mentioned, I'm completely all right with being categorized as "maladjusted" - to a sick world. But I'm definitely not all right with being forced to define myself as "bad/less worthy", which "schizophrenic" is synonymous of. We are all equal, and we all have the right to define ourselves. In theory. Psychiatric reality, our culture's reality in general, is a completely different. Individuals are forced to confess their faith: "I am schizophrenic." Individuals who choose to say: "I am maladjusted to a sick world." are told they lack insight. - Not to mention that our Orwellian culture, psychiatry very much included, regards it a certain sign of "insanity" if someone thinks, it's their environment, not they themselves, that something is wrong with. - A "lack of insight" qualifies an individual to receive even more "treatment", i.e. torture. It justifies torture until the individual goes down and accepts others' definition of himself, thus giving up on himself: Metropolis, or Brave New World.

I don't object to words. But I definitely object to the values, historical, social, cultural, etc., that are attributed to certain words, such as "schizophrenic". In addition, I just as definitely object to that what I call "junk-science" is used to justify these values to be attributed to these words. Just as I regard it a violation of human rights to force a psychiatric label onto anyone.

I certainly don't close my eyes to who I am, to my "weaknesses" and "strengths". I accept them as good as I can. If I didn't do that, I wouldn't sit here today, having this discussion with you. I'd probably sit at Ringbo [a Danish half-way-house-like institution], hardly capable of spelling my own name. Acceptance is the precondition for transformation. The transformation I am in the process of, exactly because I haven't accepted and do not accept the "life sentence".


Mark p.s. said...

The trouble with psych labels is that one person makes them, not a jury. Thats just to start with whats wrong with it.
Secondly people can and do change over time, if the label is correct, the person it describes could change in a few months.

The judgement is based on what the observer sees, and wants to see in their subject.
How many people walk away from a psychiatrist classified "normal"?
and finally a diagnosis is not a disease. A disease an outside force that generally kills or harms the physical patient. A behaviour is something nonphysical that generally doesn't kill the patient.

The power of psychiatry and the publics belief in psychiatry makes psych labels more than just words.

Marian said...

Right on, Mark. Although, even if you were judged by a jury, not a single person alone, the judgement very likely would be unjust unless every single member of the jury was aware of his/her own cultural conditioning, and able to leave it out of account. Which then would make it impossible to judge behaviour at all. With all the values, that form the basis for the judgement of behaviour being cultural values.