Monday, 20 April 2009

A perverted theory, or a perverted culture?

Instead of a comment at Doug Bremner's blog, where I don't want to start anything about this particular issue:

In his latest entry Doug Bremner [writes] wrote:

"There were two psychiatrists there named Fleiss and Lizt who had come up with [perverted] theory years ago that mothers drove their children crazy." (my italics) [Update: Doug Bremner changed his post. Actually before he read this rant. You rock, Doug! :D]

Now, as even I, who is relatively new to Doug Bremner's blog, have realized in the meantime, he lost his mother at the age of four and a half, and, of course, blamed himself for her death: PTSD. - Btw Doug, if you read this: it seems, you forgot to link "here and here and here". Whatever. Which strikes me, is that something so radical and undeniable as the death of one's mother obviously can serve to spare one's acting "artificially" from being labelled as, for instance, "schizophrenic", and thus brain-diseased (???), while less radical, tangible things obviously can't.

Here's some of the radical, undeniable, but nevertheless, compared to a physical death, rather "invisible", truth from my own past:

I cannot recall to have witnessed as much as one single incident of mutual affection between my parents. What I have witnessed, continuously, from day one to the bitter end, was my mother wiping the floor with my father, and, ultimately, since my father made himself scarce, pursuing his career, with me. My mother was the incarnation of suffering and neediness, and, of course, her misery was everybody else's responsibility but her own. With "everybody else" in the absence of my father being me, sure.

There simply was no such thing as unconditional affection - not to mention love - at our house (I can't really make myself call it a "home"). There never was any such thing in my life. And it was my own fault. If you'd asked my mother, that is.

Did I believe that, too? Sure I did. So I started to search for the "magic word", that could break the spell of my mother's misery, and that only I could find. If that makes anyone think of "schizophrenics'" somewhat "different" relationship towards language, words, the "loss of significance", because no word seems to do the trick: right on. While the double bind is just another aspect of the same game. "Find the 'magic word', and free me from my misery, and, no, don't find it, because I am my misery." Fact is, my mother was scared to death of me, because she'd made me responsible for her misery, that is, she'd put me in control of her existence.

Did that drive me crazy?...

Just some random, slightly incoherent - it's still a little touchy - thoughts an early Monday morning. Nothing but a rough outline, a few hints. The "original" consists of a good 250 pages. And yes, the concept of the schizophrenogenic mother is indeed perverted. It wasn't her as an individual. It is our whole perverted culture. Which she, too, was a product of.

Unfortunately for this culture, I wasn't told that it altogether were just meaningless "symptoms" of some obscure and completely meaningless biological brain disease and drugged up over my eyeballs, but guided and supported on my way to becoming conscious of my past. By a therapist, who isn't quite as perverted as our culture as a whole is.

I wonder, what Doug Bremner would have done.

One more random thought: When I was 29, my mother suffered a stroke during one of our regular arguments. After ten days in a coma, her doctor asked me, if it were all right with me, if they'd pull the plug, which was, what he'd recommend.

I argued with her, and I said "yes".


Gianna said...

Dear Marian,
we know parents CAN drive us crazy!! yes! even well intentioned ones and ones who die on us prematurely.

our society is crazy and we learn dysfunction even from the most well-intentioned parents...some of us are more delicate than others and suffer profoundly as a result of our parents dysfunction...

to debunk those theories is to jump on the NAMI band wagon...

I can't speak for Doug, but I do know he knows abusive parents can make for mentally distressed children who later develop into mentally distressed adults (PTSD). And it's certainly not just mothers! My father was the extreme abuser.

Doug Bremner said...

Hi Marian,

I guess you caught me with a half finished post. I was writing on the plane without internet access and mispelled the psychiatrists names, which are Fleck and Lidz. Also, I removed the "perverted" label and said they need re-consideration, because back then we thought of them as "perverted" as they made mothers feel guilty, and we were all enamored of the genetic approach to schizophrenia, but since we aren't any farther along on that score than we were back then, I thought I shouldn't be so harsh on those guys after all. I also filled in my "here and here and here"s

Marian said...

Gianna: "...even well intentioned ones...", "And it's certainly not just mothers!"

That's exactly my point, when I say, that the theory of the schizophrenogenic mother indeed is perverted. It doesn't need to be one's mother, it doesn't even need to be one's father. - Although it usually needs a more thorough traumatization to produce what then is labelled "schizophrenia" by the abuser-protection-system, than the traumatization, that produces PTSD, "reactive psychosis", and whatnot. And that thorough traumatization usually involves the individual's primary caretakers, that is, the parents, and more often than not, the mother.

And no, of course my mother didn't intend to mess me up. She had nothing but the very best intentions: The road to hell is paved with good intentions... Nevertheless, she also had a responsibility, she failed to take. And we won't get anywhere, if we keep on protecting the abusers, if their abusiveness is intended or not, and punishing the victims - as I regard "best practice" in psychiatry to be punishment, by and large.

Marian said...

Doug: Of course making mothers feel guilty isn't the way. Accusing and blaming doesn't lead to anything than the accused defend themselves, i.e. fight back. It very rarely leads to them taking responsibility. But as you say in your comment, the genetic approach didn't pan out, neither did the chemical imbalance theory. While I see a whole lot of not evidence, but circumstantial evidence in favor of the trauma theory - not least in my own experience. And given that, I think it ought to be recognized just as much a possibility as any genetic or other biological theory. Instead of being slammed as "perverted" beforehand. I'd probably not reacted to "need re-consideration".

Doug Bremner said...

Of course all thoughts, emotions, etc, have *some* biological basis, otherwise we have to inhabit the world of magical thinking, however it only occurred to me today with these comments how we had thrown over Fleck and Lidz (who are now both dead) in favor of something that is equally unproven. I agree that traumatic experiences have a much larger role in pretty much all of the mental illnesses than is currently acknowledged, and that most of these have to do with parents and with grieving, at least directly or the proximate cause.

Marian said...

Doug: No doubt, body (brain included) and mind are inextricably linked to each other. The question is, what was there first, the chicken or the egg, the emotional distress, or the biochemistry.

Ana said...


I can fully understand what you're saying but I rather comment it in another post.
Things became a little confusing here.
I had some experiences in discussions like this and I don't want to repeat it.