Monday, 6 July 2009

Jani: "schizophrenic", or a victim of child abuse?!

I had a hunch, that some kind of abuse or neglect probably was involved, also in Jani's case. - And I want to emphasize, that my definition of "abuse" is a quite broad one, that is not restricted to parents battering or sexually abusing their kids. It may or may not be the parents, and it may or may not be physical abuse.

Now I just read the following, which I haven't been aware of, at Stephany's blog:

"It saddens me to say the least to read on the Jani's father's blog that the father talks about beating (hitting) , and starving Jani, taking away her toys, and ultimately drugging her spirit. (to break her) before she was placed on psychiatric medications this child suffered child abuse."

So, no, one doesn't even need to apply my own, broad, Derrick-Jensen-influenced definition of abuse to come to the conclusion, that Jani indeed is a victim of child abuse.

Read the whole post at Stephany's blog, here!


Stephany said...

Thanks Marian, it's such a sad story.

susan said...

Thanks for writing about this Marian. Love to you and Lord Tennyson.

Stephany said...

I took another look at the father's blog, and he is a Professor of English at California State University at Northridge. A University professor!

Marian said...

Stephany: No whatsoever high education has ever prevented anyone from becoming either a narcissist, or an abuser.

Freud changed his theory about "hysteria" from being a reaction to real abuse (the "seduction theory") into being a result of mental development gone haywire ( the "oedipal theory", that actually corresponds very nicely with our time's neurotransmitter theories, as they both blame the victim/the victim's brain/mind), under the pressure of his time's upper class, where most of his patients came from, namely under the influence of his friend Wilhelm Fliess, a medical doctor like Freud, who, as it turned out later, was sexually abusing his children himself.

The problem isn't a lack of education, it's a lack of self-/consciousness. These people cope with their own trauma by projecting it into others, whom they then, apparently righteously, can reject and punish for being "bad", while what they really reject and try to punish, is themselves. The "brat" inside themselves. It's called acting out. It's an unconscious defence mechanism, it operates beyond any logic and rational thought, so it's actually not susceptible to neither one of these, and, indeed, it makes no difference whether the object of their self-hatred is "bad" or "mad", whether it is a "brat" or "schizophrenic".

When I look at the amount of self-hatred, reflected in the seeking for self-confirmation through pity ("Look at just how much we suffer!" they're not looking for empathy and compassion, all they want is pity), it doesn't surprise me the least, that Jani reacted the way she did. They pushed her. Right from the start. Jani doesn't do anything but fulfil her parents expectations in her. She does, what they ask her to do: be the "brat"/the "schizophrenic". I'd go as far as to say that "400", the cat, is the true voice of her parents. And if she wasn't a child, rather unconscious herself, she could extricate herself simply by the conscious act of not reacting to their pushing anymore. As it is, that's not an option for her, and it may very well be too late to ever become an option.

Stephany said...

LATimes reporter defends parental abuse of Jani Schofield, blames it on parents exhaustion, lack of self-control and Jani's schizophrenia -Is Something not quite right with Stan blog author contacted Shari Roan, reporter, and posts her email response.

Mark p.s./Mark p.s.2 said...

Looks like the parents should have got a "YOU FAIL AS PARENTS" messege. The state should intervene for the soul and well being of the child. But now we have the magical "medical" diagnosis of schizophrenia to blame.

Marian said...

Stephany: Thanks for the link! Here it is once more in a clickable version:

Marian said...

Mark: That's what psych diagnoses are there for. To protect the abuser.

Mark p.s./Mark p.s.2 said...

I.M.O. With respect to Stephany (bipolarsoupkitchen-stephany.blogspot) , who I believe a good parent, was caught up in the billion dollar Pharma industry because she trusted the title of DOCTOR to know what was right.
Psychiatrists are not doctors like most everyone believes, as what do psychiatrists treat? The mind , a non physical object. Therefore not a doctor.
Psych diagnoses are not specifically to protect the abuser, but an attempt to medicalize behaviour into a disease. I think psych diagnoses are created as an excuse/reason/justify to apply/force chemicals on subservient-patient .

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, as we have a common cause, I don't think we should alienate parents who fell into the "magical medicine" lie-trap of pharma Co..

Marian said...

Mark: Unfortunately, abuse is very real, but as I try to point out time and again, it doesn't need to be one's mother, father, or even any other single individual, who carries it out, although it often is, which Jani's father is, and my mother was an example of. While Jani's father, in his own words, "fought" to get his daughter labelled with "schizophrenia", the psych label, that provides the best protection for the abuser, as it is the label, that dehumanizes, depersonalizes the labelled the most. That's why he wanted this and no other label for his daughter.

Just as often it is our culture as a whole, that is the abuser. Our way of living, "normality".

Neither Stephany nor for instance Abdulle's family are abusers. In these cases it is the system itself, that is the abuser, and that tries to cover up its own abuse by labelling the abused, and denying, that the label could be a mistake.

The "it's all for the money"-explanation is a little too simplistic IMO. Certainly, when it comes to Big pHARMa, monetary profit is the most important. But Big pHARMa wouldn't be big, if it wasn't for a culture, that is based and built upon the idea, that "I am the greatest", the "crown of creation". A culture that is based and built upon the possibility to exploit everything and everyone on this planet, both physically and emotionally. This possibility stands or falls with the possibility of gaining and maintaining total control, unlimited power, that shuts up everything and everyone, who dares to protest. "Mental Illness" is (our) nature protesting against this exploitation. Psych labels - and the drugs that come along with them - shut people up. More efficiently than anything else.

This is a very complex issue, and it's hard to explain it in a comment here. Read Endgame by Derrick Jensen. Or some Laing.

And once more here: it is not about blaming someone like Stephany, who certainly isn't an abuser. It isn't even about blaming an individual like Michael Schofield alone, because he is a product of our culture, of our civilization. To blame him alone, woulkd be just as simplistic - and wrong - as to blame a greed for monetary profit alone.

Mark p.s./Mark p.s.2 said...

"This is a very complex issue", yes I do agree/acknowledge that. I still feel the fraud of selling chemicals as a treatment for "mental illnes" is a main point. The world runs on money. People would still demand magical pills, but a real doctor would inform them you can't get that in a pill.
If no one is paying for it, it won't happen.
"Fear, force and fraud" is by Don Weitz.
"Fear" can not be combated its an individual battle/journy, "force" is wanted or necessary for the misbehaving, and people want preventive justice and a scapegoat(mental illness) for their discontent.
All that leaves to attack is the fraud of the pHARMa Co.. Real science and real doctors hopefully will do this.
Who is throwing the money at the scientists to find the "schizophrenia" gene?
"Scientists have identified thousands of tiny genetic variations which together could account for more than a third of the inherited risk of schizophrenia."

The HUGE money of pharma Co. gives power to psychiatrists with the philosophy of drugging, these more powerful psychiatrists cause drugging, drugging keeps the ill, ill. The patient is ill-out of control, they need drugs.

Marian said...

"If no one is paying for it, it won't happen."

That's right. At least it won't happen the way it does today. But, some 60 years ago or so, no one was paying. And still, it happened. Back then, people weren't shut up with toxic chemicals, as these didn't exist, at least not for use in humans, they were thrown in dungeons, so even though they could scream, and did scream, no one would hear them, they were forced into straight jackets, lobotomized, and and and. Why? What was the profit for those, who made it possible, the politicians, the members of society who approved of it? Control. Power.

What is in for all those, who work at psych wards, and who are not on Big pHARMa's pay roll? I mean, these people must be pretty blind not to be able to see, that what they're doing is harming the "patients". How come, that they, nevertheless, choose to do such a job? How come, that they choose to close their eyes, and deny the harm they're doing? Because no other job puts them into a position of power and control over others as a job in the mh system does. Even zoo-animals have rights, and a keeper who mistreats them and is caught gets sacked.

What is in for the NAMI-relatives like Jani's father? who, I don't doubt, does actually suffer. But who created and creates his own suffering. Well, in rare cases, and Jani's father seems to be one of them, some money. But overall it's control and power. And, of course, a unique chance to stand out with their self-created suffering: "Look at me!"

It's not that they do it consciously. They're not evil. They're just unconscious victims of their needy, power-tripping ego. And, btw, power-tripping (narcissistic) egos also do worship money... But their primary concern is to get into and remain in power and control. The more, the better.

They feel, they have no self-control, so they look for control over others. They have no self-worth, so they look for a substitute in material goods, money, fame, power. An article in the LA-Times, a radio interview, a very very special daughter, one in - what was it? - 50,000, something, nation-wide attention - wow! Try and beat that! He IS someone. But it's never enough. The ego can't be satisfied. So, he will continue down that road, write a book, hope for a movie contract, you name it. And then? Then, maybe, his daughter will die. Oh boy, look at all this suffering! Another heyday for his ego ahead. But what then? He'll have to find another object to satisfy his ego's needs - or he'll crash.

Marian said...

..."crash": That's what he needed Jani for in the first place. To prevent the crash. "Depression" huh? An ego about to crash.

Marian said...

Hello National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland,

and what are you going to do about it? Drug Jani up over her eyeballs again, after you've taken her off the poison and "observed" her for a month or two?? I bet.

Cassie said...

Please. Get over yourself.

Having read the articles and the father's blog, I am quite convinced that everyone involved (besides, perhaps, the social workers) really is doing everything they can.

Mental illness has touched my family in some very destructive and deep ways. And for you to expect a family torn apart by mental illness to behave totally rationally is so ludicrous it's almost offensive.

Even mentally healthy people have a breaking point. Was it wrong of him to smack his daughter, or starve her for 2 days (though the purpose was to try to get her to try new foods - a trick which I'm sure your parents have tried on you)? Yes. Absolutely.

But consider the huge amount of strain this family has gone through as they struggled, alone, with a severely disturbed child who, at the age of 6, wants to kill herself because she is in so much pain. Think about that.

Is it also incredibly sad that this child is on a dose of drugs large enough to stagger most adults? Yes. Very. I'm very apprehensive of psych drugs - they hurt as many people as they help, if not more.

But what are the options, with a child who is this ill?

1. Strap her to a bed 24/7
2. Let her kill herself, or someone else.
3. Drug her so maybe, just maybe, she can live long enough to become mature enough to fight her illness head on.

Clearly 3 is the only option worth considering, though they are all bad choices.

There is no good answer here. That's the thing. And when there are no good answers, you can't wag your finger at the parents or the doctors for choosing the least terrible of their only 3 choices.

Have some fucking compassion.

Marian said...

Cassie: I do have compassion. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have made an effort to understand how someone can treat a human being the way, Michael Schofield, his wife and everybody else (the "experts") treat Jani.

Nevertheless, compassion won't keep me from pointing out abuse where it happens. And the whole concept of "mental illness" as a biological brain disease is nothing but one huge attempt to cover up for the abusers, and excuse their abusiveness. It's an abuse in itself. Probably the worst of them all.

Marian said...

Cassie: I don't publish abusive comments. And your latest comment has some abusive language to it.

Anyhow, I will reply, in short, to the non-abusive contents:

Biochemical components: I don't doubt that. Yet, recent studies have shown, that those are very likely caused by childhood trauma.

Here's what love is: unconditional acceptance of the other. Everything else isn't love, but narcissism.

People can bend and break, so true! But why is it only true for Michael and Susan Schofield, and not for their daughter?

Cassie said...

If my first comment wasn't, then nor was that one. But, well, whatever you say. Since no one else had the benefit of reading it I suppose you can call it whatever you like.

Having studied psychology, I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are wrong. Some disorders, such as personalitiy disorders, are rooted almost entirely in childhood or life trauma.

However, mood and perceptual disorders can and do happen in people with even the best of childhoods and the calmest of lives. Abuse can speed the decline, but then, let's look at Bodhi.

Bodhi, Jani's younger brother, is perectly normal. He was raised with the same parents, and in fact, has probably had worse parenting than Jani did, because Jani takes up so much so their time and energy.

I never said it didn't apply to Jani. But while Michael and Susan have been declining, Jani has been getting better. The improvment is very slow, but it's there. Jani is the closest to happiness she's ever been since her infancy.

And if you think bending and breaking applies to Jani, then why doesn't it apply to Michael and Susan?

You're pointing at straw men because you just don't understand what these parents are dealing with. You should just admit that, rather than making uninformed assumptions.

I'd like to see you go through what I have, or what the Shofields have, and then we'll see what you have to say.

Actually, I take that back. No one should ever have to go through that. Your ignorance is a blessing.

Marian said...

Cassie: The "his/her brother/sister/whoever"-thing won't do. There are no two children, who get raised the same, even if they have the same parents. It's a question about who get's singled out to be the scapegoat. Bodhi wasn't. Jani was. Attention isn't automatically always a good thing. Especially if it's the attention of a narcissist. You should know that, having studied psychology.

Bending and breaking does apply to Michael and Susan Schofield as well. If they weren't victims of abuse themselves, they wouldn't have had any abuse to pass on to Jani. That's what narcissism is all about, passing on the abuse to the next generation.

I don't think, existential suffering should be turned into a competition.The "Poor me! Look at how much suffering I've gone through!"-tear-jerker-strategy won't work with me.

Cassie said...

I've seen countless examples of the mental effects of child abuse from mild to the most severe. It does not cause a child to become psychotic and thought disordered. Shy?
Sure. Violent? Sometimes. Emotionally disturbed? Frequently.

But not psychotic. Even PTSD very seldom renders psychosis, even in its most extreme forms. It's a rarity.

And actually, comparitive studies are very useful. They're one of the most telling indicator of cause/effect knownt to science. Jani's emotional state vs. Bodhi's is really a very good way to indicate what sort of parents the Schofields really are. The indication is, stressed beyond any human's ability to cope, but trying like hell.

Jani is surrounded by enough doctors and social workers that I think someone would notice if she was being abused to that degree.

Once again, omnipotent internet psychologist, you really just don't seem to have any idea how this works.

I'm not even sure what to say about the "passing on abuse" thing. WTF? So now you're hypothosizing about Michael and Susan's childhoods? Wow.

The fact is that you don't know. You don't know ANYTHING. You've never met Jani, nor her parents, nor do you know anything about their family history, nor do you know anything about their mental states, nor do you have any proof that they are bad parents, nor do you have even the slightest idea what they are going through.

Even as someone who clearly has much more experience with this sort of thing than you do, not even I can say I know. I have an educated guess. But it's just a guess.

"Poor me" nothing. My experiences have taught me a hell of a lot more about empathy and understanding than you ever learned, obviously. Adversity breeds strength.

My point is simply that I have a perspective you don't. Because only someone who hasn't ever been through, or seen, mental illness this severe could be as heartless as you're being.

Marian said...

Cassie: Having imaginary friends, that parrot one's parents' violence is "psychotic"? I see... Nice defence for the abuser.

I have been through it.

Whatever. Please yoyrself.

Cassie said...

There is a difference between imaginary friends and hallucinations. Imaginary friends very seldom cause physical pain, tell you to kill people, or seduce you to run out into the street.

When Bodhi babbles to himself, he has imaginary friends.

When Jani sobs because her voices are punishing her for not hitting a boy, she has hallucinations.

You can cover your eyes all you want but fundamentally, people like you are the reason that children like Jani can't get the help they need.

Marian said...

Cassie: Yes, and the earth is flat. I know.

Cassie said...

Are your personal gripes more important than the truth? Really? The fact is you don't have any valid reason to assume what you are, and you're certainly not helping anyone.

This is silly.

Marian said...

Cassie: First, I find it very interesting, that you make an awful lot of assumptions about me, without having read other than one single post at my blog. This one. Is this how you assess your clients? - I suppose you have clients, since you mentioned your vast experience, working with abused children. Or did I misunderstand? - Observing them for - what? Two minutes? Looking for anything they say, that could be labelled, so you wouldn't have to risk and truly listen to them? It's scary, I know. Nothing is as scary, as having to look at oneself in a mirror, when you fear that what you might be presented with isn't all too pleasant to look at. But, you know, this unfortunately in our society very wide-spread, and, yeah, narcissistic, attitude indeed renders you rather incompetent as a therapist. It actually renders you an abuser yourself, and thus a danger to your clients.

The truth?? I challenge you: show me the evidence for "schizophrenia" to be the disease you claim it is. I'm sorry, but there is no such evidence, that is valid. On the contrary, if you kept yourself updated about research in the field, you'd know, that there is an increasing body of evidence for reactions, that are labelled as "schizophrenia", to be the result of abuse. And abuse has many faces. One of them is being made the object of someone else's needs. It's usually mistaken for love, care, and help, but actually, it's the opposite.

You studied psychology? I suggest, you ask to get the money back you spent on your education. You've obviously been cheated. You didn't get anything in return.

Marian said...

(Surprise surprise: my challenge wasn't accepted.)

Anonymous said...

Michael--I mean "Cassie", I'll post to you here since YOUR blog is so heavily CENSORED comments.
Quote, from your OWN blog, Janni woke up at 3am, she used the bathroom. You told her to wash her hands, she refused, YOU, insisted that she wash her hands, enter melt-down, or "time for more thorazine" as you call it.
Severe child abuse. No doubt about that.

How about the time you asked her if she wanted to share her Burger-King toy? She said "No"--(ha ha-as if she had a choice!). You brow-beat her 'till she lost it.

I'm in the publishing business myself Scoefield, and I'll do whatever I can to make sure that you NEVER publish a book about your child's (Munchausen by proxy), "illness".

Another QUOTE from your own blog, you say this poor kid needs 24-7 constant "stimulation"--creepy choice of words by the way, Did it ever occur to you that whatever you & your wife tried to do, and you say that you ran yourselves ragged trying to "tire her out", and -what-afraid of a little temper-tantrum??, well look what happened. YOU did this to her. It is NOT a mental illness.
Thank-you whoever owns this blog--I needed to get this out.
Too bad Scofield-you don't make the rules for me or everyone, just little kids-if you were my dad i would kik you & bite you too!

Marian said...

Anonymous: Cassie above isn't the same person as Michael Schofield. Unless Schofield has moved to New Zealand, that is.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people like Michael Schofield in this world - just look at all the supporters at his blog -, also in New Zealand, and also among psychologists/psychotherapists. More often than not it's exactly the opportunity to make the rules for others, that lets these people choose the profession.

Marian said...

BTW and apropos of "there are a lot of people like Michael Schofield in this world": I just ran into a couple of them at the supermarket today. Yelling at their four-five-year-old, who was standing just a few feet away, to "f**king move it and get out of the way of people".

Stephany said...

Link to friend of the Schofield's promoting their Oprah TV program. Those parents are wanting the spotlight on them, it is a sad commentary on Jani's life.

Marian said...

Stephany: Exactly, wanting the spotlight. I'm certainly not fond of labels, but these parents' behavior borders to MSbP.

Terry K. said...

Neither entitled to have a medical opinion nor wanting to pass a judgment, but it is just hard to ignore all the questions this whole thing begs to be asked.

* Michael Schofield has written on his blog that schizophrenia existed in the family history of both his wife Susan, AND himself. It baffles me how any individual with THAT kind of knowledge would make the choice of having kids. Considering that Michael holds a post-graduate degree and loves to emphasize genetic make-up in his blog entries, it seems as ignorant as placing explosives right next to the fire place and expecting nothing to happen. I'm not questioning anybody's right to start a family and have kids, but there must have been some medical expert or at least a family doctor to inform Michael and Susan about the risks multiplied with that kind of familial history shared on both sides. Any kind of mental/psychological illness repeating on the parental history of both sides is more than likely to have significant effect in the lives of children.

* I understand that Jani didn't receive the schizophrenia diagnosis until early 2009, but it's beyond me why a second child would be brought into this situation which was already very puzzling, demanding and difficult before the most recent diagnosis was called. You have a child with special needs that demand more care and attention than you've anticipated, her condition doesn't seem to get better or controllable without jumping from one medication to another, YET you go for another child? Any thoughts given about the extra attention and care that the younger child would need in a family environment like this? Unless I'm mistaken, research statistics aren't too optimistic about the mental/ psychological health of children growing up with siblings diagnosed with schizophrenia. I fear that both nature and nurture would play against Jani's baby brother Bodhi.

* Writing is therapeutic and I can see why it would be so for Michael Schofield, given his educational and professional background, but the blog doesn't really read 'January first' when you really read the blog. I find it surprising that Michael Schofield finds the time to post such lengthy, well-articulated writings while he constantly emphasizes that he has very little time to sleep or do anything refreshing, personal or even professional, when raising a child like Jani. I'm glad that he shares Jani's story with the world which I hope would raise awareness, but he seems more involved with expressing his own situation rather than Jani's world or experiences.

* Beating or starving an animal? Unacceptable. A child?? Unthinkable. A child who's clearly extra-ordinary (with or without some diagnosis, doesn't matter)??? I'm running out of adjectives.

* I don't have any medical degrees but I fear that the ignorant behavior of Schofields towards one another and towards Jani triggered her condition diagnosed as schizophrenia. A fragile genetic make-up combined with physical abuse, restive family environment, and victim psychology of parents, multiplied with so much of failed drug trials.. I wonder where Calalini really is: in Jani's head, or in the place called Jani's home?

Terry K.

Marian said...

Terry: good points. I disagree when it comes to genes and telling people, they shouldn't have kids because of a history of "mental illness". Predisposition, cause, whatever, it hasn't been established in any valid scientific fashion so far. All of the studies that allegedly show an increased risk for the children of "mentally ill" parents to develop "mental illness" themselves are more or less severely flawed. Among other things, many of them fail to distinguish between genetic heritability and non-genetic familiar heredity.

In the meantime, it has been scientifically established, that child abuse causes changes in brain structure and genes. Possible gene "anomalies" are thus far more likely to be just another symptom, the abused person's genes adjusting to the abusive environment, than to be the/a cause. Check out epigenetics.

And: I know quite a few people with a history of "mental illness" in their family, who turned out great parents with highly functioning kids. All these people have one thing in common, though. They've had the chance to understand and work out their trauma, and recover. Trauma that isn't made conscious gets passed on to the next generation. To break this vicious circle, or more like vicious spiral, actually, you have to face your "demons", and take responsibility.

People who for one or the other reason lack self-awareness, maybe shouldn't have kids. If they're labelled or not. Those who have done their "homework" - I can see no reason why they shouldn't have kids.

"January First", ha! I had the same thoughts about that one.

Terry K. said...

Marian: Thanks for your thoughts. Though I must clarify that I didn't write in my previous comment or think in general that people with mental/psychological illnesses shouldn't have kids. To put it in a different way: If I were to be in a likely scenario in which my partner and I wanted to have kids but knew about the alarming medical traits shared between our families, I would be thinking beyond my right or desire to be a biological parent. This would be a decision based on my own ethical point of view so I wouldn't claim it to be normative for everyone or expect it to appeal to the next person.

While inheritance is not called to be the single cause, or most important factor behind schizophrenia, I am also aware of a number of studies that point to hereditary disposition as one of the reasons for the onset.
[* O'Donovan MC; Williams NM, Owen MJ (2003). "Recent advances in the genetics of schizophrenia". Human Molecular Genetics 12 Spec No 2; * Owen MJ; Craddock N, O'Donovan MC (2005). "Schizophrenia: genes at last?". Trends in Genetics 21 (9); * Craddock N; O'Donovan MC, Owen MJ (2006). "Genes for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder? Implications for psychiatric nosology". Schizophrenia Bulletin 32 (1)]. In any case, there is hardly ever any conclusive, closing-the-debate kind of findings in scientific disciplines as the very nature of their episteme and methodology don't allow this- so is the case with medicine and studies of schizophrenia.

I realize we have different opinions on this subject but I agree that abuse is the keyword to many mental/ psychological illnesses. At the same time, I think that any person critical of the institute of medicine and its discursive authority should also be aware of the abuse/ trauma causation that's become such a 'trend' of speech in everyday life & its politics. In today's society it is almost impossible to simply *be* without grounding one's subjectivity on some form of childhood trauma or abuse. I don't imply a philosophical debate of existentialist nature or ontological kind: I'm saying that sickliness has become the norm for ours is a society where open wounds are nourished and carried around like some license to authentic individuality, if not like a downright excuse to weakness.

Similar problem with the whole notion of illness/ disease. On one side you have people who use the word to suggest the neutrality or the sheer receptivity of the person suffering (the sick= the victim). Others use the same word as a social stigma (the sick= the guilty), inviting the rightful critique of "but that's discrimination and labeling". I have to but agree with Nietzsche that "health & sickness are not essentially different, as the ancient physicians and some practitioners even today suppose. One must not make of them distinct principles or entities that fight over the living organism and turn it into their arena." (WP 47)

Must I emphasize at this point that I acknowledge Michael's beating and starving of Jani as a.b.u.s.e, or that I don't blame any person for suffering from mental/ psychological illness? If I must, then my previous comment should do the clarification.

Terry K.

Erica Rachelle said...

I just read about this girl today. I saw a link to the Oprah video on AOL and wanted to check it out. After I watched a 1 minute clip of Jani talking to herself and to Oprah, my immediate feelings were confusion and a disgusting queasy feeling I get in my stomach when I think about, hear about, or see any kind of abuse.

I know people say they get a "gut feeling" about things and I guess that's what it is. I know that doesn't count for much as far as my reliability goes, but I tend to be right about these feelings 75% of the time.

I don't really have a lot of input on the subject, but I just wanted to let you know that I find this conversation very interesting and hope to read more. I have always been interested in psychology and I continue to be, especially the aspect of trying to understand WHY things happen in peoples' minds.

I would also like to add that it was hard for me to see Jani's "illness." I saw a little girl imagining things in a normal way. Children tend to project when they don't understand or know how to deal with things, and it just looked like that's what she was doing. There were times she was rubbing her wrists together over and over and I don't know this girl or know her situation, but I think this could be something she picked up somewhere. A movie, educational video about mental illness, or from an extremely autistic or mentally retarded child (that is a characteristic that children of those labels display). As someone had stated before, she is playing the role of the schizophrenic child and living up to her parents' expectations.

I also noticed that her friend with paranoid schizophrenia seemed a lot more calm than Jani, at first. After being with Jani for a bit, she began doing the same things with her wrists and hands.

This ended up being much longer than I initially intended for it to be, but I just wanted to put in my two cents about what I saw. I am by no means qualified to make any analysis, but I am a mother, daughter, and human being with concern and compassion for the well-being of others, especially children. I just hope that whatever it is that is hurting Jani can be resolved for everyone's sake.

Marian said...

Erica: your "gut feeling", and being a human being with concern and compassion renders you a whole lot more reliable than if you'd studied for years and years, and read every book available on the matter.

Contrary to what the "experts" try to make us believe, human beings are not machines. Theoretical expertise is fine when you're a motor mechanic. Nothing qualifies a person more when it comes to understanding the human mind, than being a conscious human being themselves.

MacCruiskeen said...

Marian, thank you for your good sense and straight talk. The fawning adulation in the comments box at MS's blog is quite simply nauseating.

There was a very long (35-page) and heated thread about this at the Rigorous Intuition discussion board in the summer. I contributed there as 'MacCruiskeen' and I am going to bump the thread again.


Yesterday Jani was served up on Oprah. Yesterday was also the 82nd anniversary of R.D. Laing's birth. He has never been more sorely missed.

Marian said...

Terry: the study you mention above is from 2003. This one is from 2008: Sanders, et al., "No Significant Association of 14 Candidate Genes With Schizophrenia in a Large European Ancestry Sample: Implications for Psychiatric Genetics. Other aspects are, as I've mentioned above, epigenetics, research findings that suggest trauma to be the major cause of "schizophrenia, and research findings that link abuse to changes in genes. So, even if people labelled with "schizophrenia" were genetically different from "normal" individuals, this would be a result of trauma, a biological symptom, not a cause.

I think, it is important to emphasize this, because for many people the message about their genes being the cause, or just one of several causes, means hopelessness concerning recovery. In the usual interpretation, genes are rather static entities. You don't just change them. While you always can take responsibility and change your way of being in this world. I know of people who've offed themselves because they were told the bs about a lifelong brain disease caused by defective genes, and chose to believe in it (it's no accident that the suicide rate is rather high among people labelled with "schizophrenia", and it is very rarely the "illness" that causes people to off themselves). I don't think, anyone has the right to do this to anyone else unless they have undeniable evidence. In this case, they do not have it.

Well, and then, of course, there's the political, the social-Darwinist aspect of the gene-theory... No, not here, not now. Just this: "He thinks it's comforting to believe schizophrenics act the way they do because their brains are diseased. Biological differences 'make them different from us fundamentally,' he says. 'They're sort of a slightly different race than we are.' Mosher thinks it's all 'a way of carefully saying, 'These people are really different. And therefore we have the right to do whatever we goddamn please with them.' " (Jeannette De Wyze, "Still Crazy After All These Years"

I hear you in regard to abuse/trauma. IMO, however, there's far too little focus on both where it really matters. I agree whole-heartedly that to ab/use trauma as an excuse/ a justification to continue the drama won't do. There's something called responsibility.  

Marian said...

P.S. to Terry: "He" in the quote above is Loren Mosher.

Marian said...

MacCruiskeen: thanks for stopping by and mentioning R.D. Laing. Here's to Ronnie, one of the few who really got/get it!

And here's the link, once again, the clickable version:

Marian said...

P.S. to Erica: As Miranda suggests in the comments to this post at Furious Seasons, the obvious restlessness, rubbing her wrists and constant head movements, and the inability to sit still and concentrate Jani displays, may very well be symptoms of akathisia, taken the huge doses of neurotoxins she is on into account.

Erica Rachelle said...

I also wanted to briefly add that the nervous and erratic movement happens to me when I get restless legs. It's a bizarre thing to feel and one of the most horrible feelings I have experienced (that includes childbirth which is horrendous) and I can't imagine feeling something like that constantly. It makes you think crazy things when you can't control your own body and that may contribute to the erratic and unusual behavior, as well.

Terry K. said...

Hello again Marian: I have read the article you've referred to in your previous response and found pages 504-505 particularly interesting where the research results are interpreted as part of conclusive remarks of the article.

I had to delete the large quote from the article not to exceed the character limit for comment boxes. But in short:

* The researchers openly state that their findings do not provide a conclusive refutation of the gene theory in studies of schizophrenia. Instead, they suggest that the 14 candidate genes studied in previous research as well as in this particular one do not present a causal linkage strong enough for the sample population of Sanders' study.

* Only those SNPs scrutinized in previous research were looked into in this particular study, and that further research needs to be conducted for wider SNP arrays, gene-gene interactions and DNA sequence variants.

* The researches acknowledge the limited nature of both the previous studies (which suggest positive linkage btw genes and schizophrenia) AND that of their own on the basis of the genes studied and the sample populations that were picked. They neither present a counter-argument on genetic factors possibly at play with schizophrenia nor do they claim their study to be demonstrative for populations with variables not represented in the sample group. On the contrary, they underline the necessity for further studies with wider focus, since they acknowledge that genes offer an important opportunity to understand schizophrenia to-date.

Personally, I'm not a fan of genetic and/or biological determinism. But I'm also not a fan of the sentiment behind those points of view that are eager to toss aside medical research or ignore the very nature of scientific methodologies just because one way of interpreting their findings does not suit a certain preference of explanation or perspective. Careful reading of scientific material shows that researches are often more careful and conscientious about presenting the array and limits of their findings then what the general reader makes of them. They are not ruling out genes as a factor at work with schizophrenia, neither do they single out genes as THE primary cause, yet the general reader is often quick to employ an either/or logic which often proves to be partial and biased.

Schizophrenia or not, one might be genetically disposed to have a certain illness or syndrome but that does not mean that no measure, responsibility or decision could be taken to improve the health or the overall life standard of that person with the illness or syndrome. It is the public opinion (often not so well-informed) and incompetent medical figures (who must be criticized with vigorousness) that read "genes= helplessness", not genetics or science itself.

(off-topic note and please feel free if you wish to not-publish this segment of my comment: I can't help but notice the quote you have on horses with reference to Qur'an. I am Muslim and re-checked Qur'an with the hope of providing you with the exact surah reference. The quote turns out to be not from Qur'an but a well known Arabic saying reflecting their cultural fondness for horses. You might want to check indexed versions of Qur'an to see it yourself. I understand it's a favorite quote on the Net that is falsely referred to be Qur'anic but Muslim readers would find such a misreference offensive. We take Qur'an to be the exact citing of Allah's words, so it'd be tantamount to putting words into Allah's mouth, to put it an awefully inadequate and painfully anthropomorphic way.)

Terry K.

Marian said...

Terry: Humility is maybe the most important ingredient in science: "We found this, but it may not be the one and only truth anyway." Science is just as imperfect as those who engage in it - human beings. Personally, I don't believe, we'll ever be able to explain the mystery of our own being fully and definitively. Certainly not as long as we try to explain it through rational and materialistic thinking alone, and dismiss any other approach as pure mumbo-jumbo. Unfortunately, this is exactly what I see is going on in modern western civilization. And while studies often make use of "maybe-it's possible-further research is needed"-wording, the media that are accessible for the public tend to omit these reservations, and present findings as the absolute truth. Especially when the findings match the at any time given political agenda (which for instance can be that "the mentally ill" need to be a kind of second rate people, genetically defecticve... While it also has been suggested, that a genetic difference doesn't need to be a defect, but actually could be an advantage. Cf. Ron Unger, "Mental "disorder" or evolved mental strategy?" Frankly, I wouldn't want to miss the experience, as tough as it was.)

And this leads me to the part of your comment where I disagree to a certain extent. You write.

"Schizophrenia or not, one might be genetically disposed to have a certain illness or syndrome but that does not mean that no measure, responsibility or decision could be taken to improve the health or the overall life standard of that person with the illness or syndrome."

I don't regard "schizophrenia" or any other "mental illness" to be an illness, a defect, but rather an extreme form of completely natural, existential suffering. With existential suffering being the incentive for change and growth to occur. There's no growth without growing pains. Without suffering there is no reason to change anything. And what else is life but constant change? So, to me it's not about learning to live with a chronic disease. It's about overcoming the suffering. And it is possible, genes or not. Although they don't figure in the statistics of psychiatry, because they've had to leave the system in order to get the chance, a lot of people are recovered, fully recovered. IMO a "learn to live with your illness"-approach is simply far too limiting the potential of our minds and souls into account. It's enslaving people, I'd even say, it is soul-murder.

Thanks for the info on the quote! I'll change the reference.

Marian said...

"...taken into account." I mean.

Terry K. said...

Marian: I agree that media as well as certain actors within institutions of medicine and overall science, are so eager to employ illogical and unethical short-cuts to over/under- represent research findings and misinform the general public to the advantage of their political and commercial agenda. My 'favorite' example: Not a day goes without seeing some awfully written 'news' report on this or that social psychology research which supposedly suggests essential and ontological differences between sexes or people with different ethnic make-up. Do some researchers have just too much time (or funding) in their hands? Am I reading the wrong newspapers? I have changed my subscriptions so many times but their mentality still runs the business of creating public opinion.

I'm writing my doctoral dissertation on health and sickness, so this is why I find some of the subjects on your blog and your point of view on 'mental illness' very interesting. I am aware of the notion of 'neuro-diversity' which I think might appeal to your perspective on some levels. Are you too familiar with the notion? If so, what are your thoughts about it?

Finally, thank you for a civilized and thoughtful discussion. It's simply a rarity on the Net.

Marian said...

Terry: neuro-diversity, sure! Another, related, term used by many people in the movement (survivor/MadPride) is "diversability", instead of "disability".

To me, this is very much political. The following originally appeared on adbusters, and is still found in Will Hall's Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs:

The Universal Declaration of Mental Rights and Freedoms
We hold these truths:
•  That all human beings are created different and that every human being has the right to be mentally free and independent.
•  That every human being has the right to feel, see, hear, sense, imagine, believe or experience anything at all, in any way, at any time.
•  That every human being has the right to behave in any way that does not harm others or break fair and just laws.
•  That no human being shall be subjected without consent to incarceration, restraint, punishment, or psychological or medical intervention in an attempt to control, repress or alter the individual's thoughts, feelings or experiences.

Now, compare the above to what the psychiatric system does, and what actually also characterizes a totalitarian system compared to both a democracy and even an authoritarian system... Psychiatry is a totalitarian control system, created to oppress, and if possible eliminate, any non-conformist, i.e. abnormal, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, perceptions, etc. While "normality" is a purely cultural concept, that doesn't need to be identical with "nature". A lot of people confuse "normal" with "natural". Personally, looking at modern western civilisation, I don't think, humanity can move much further away from what is natural than it already has without losing its humanity, its own nature, for good. Which then, of course, would be the end of humanity - at least of the civilized part of it - one way or the other. - Wouldn't be the worst that could happen, if you ask me... I can hear the planet/nature breathe a sigh of relief: "Ah, finally!" Unless humanity manages to bring down the whole planet alongside its own fall, that is. - At the same time, this extensive alienation commonly is regarded perfectly normal. And those who react to it, protesting it, "insane".

As mentioned above, to me life is constant change, constant transformation. Diversity, also its extremes, is life. Conformity, stability - like in "mood-stabilizer" for instance - is not death, as death is a transformation itself, not the opposite, but a part of life. It is deadness. Look at those people who are on psychotropic drugs. What do you see? A certain kind of deadness. And if you ask them, what they feel: a certain kind of emotional deadness. What many of them don't realize, because it needs conscious awareness to realize it, is that also their thinking becomes impaired - deadened - by these drugs. If extreme experiences are accepted, and those who go through them are supported, they usually bring about a great deal of change in consciousness. Psychiatry's task in society is to prevent that change from happening in order to keep society stable. But if we want a chance to survive as a species, we need to embrace, not fight, diversity. Not least neuro-diversity. Otherwise, we'll end up in a 1984/Brave New Woprld-state-of-deadness altogether.

I don't know, if I answered your question. It's a complex subject. I could go on and on and on about it... and me too, I enjoy civilized discussions like this a lot more than the all too common mudslinging.

A personal question: what are you studying?

Terry K. said...

Marian: I'm currently studying continental philosophy and critical theory though I majored in sociology. Working to develop a Nietzschean take on health and sickness, critiquing psychoanalytical notions of subjectivity, Darwinism of all sorts and mechanistic views about life and Nature. So it's important for me to follow theoretical but also 'actuele' discussions on how we approach medical institutions/ discourses, and how we configure historically what defines health and sickness.

You might find some of the reading material interesting, as I saw you mentioned post-structuralism in your blogger profile.

Marian said...

Terry: I have some more thoughts about all this, but will probably make them a post of its own tomorrow. So, for now just a recommendation: interview with Ari Ne'eman, director of the Autism Self Advocacy Network: Good stuff about neuro-diversity, the differences between the Mad Movement and Autism Self Advocacy, etc.

Marian said...

Anonymous: If it wasn't for the readers of this blog, I'd published your comment. I won't though, because I think there's enough abusiveness in this world as it is. But thanks anyway. Your comment illustrated very clearly, what your sister reacts to.