Wednesday, 8 July 2009

An unwanted child

First of all, go to Stan's blog, and read the e-mail exchange between him and the LA-Times reporter Shari Roan, who chooses to defend what in my opinion is a crystal-clear case of severe child abuse.

Now, while many in the meantime seem to have noticed that Jani's father Michael Schofield openly admits to have both beaten her up, starved her and subjected her to numerous other kinds of what without doubt must be termed severe child abuse, there's something, no one yet has explicitly mentioned, as far as I can see.

In this blog post Jani's father talks about the basic needs of infants:

"Simply having to feed another person on schedule is a chore. After years of only having to take care of yourself, you have to take care of another. Feed them. Clean them. Wipe them. Feed them again. Bathe them. Again with the feeding.

These simple tasks are difficult enough because we are not used to it. Society trains us to take care of ourselves, not another human being.

Since the focus of baby care classes is basic infant care, it lulls you into a sense of believing that infants will only complain if their basic needs aren't met. You believe all you have to do is feed them, clean them, keep them warm, and maybe hold them a little bit.

That's bullshit.

It turns out that "basic" human needs are not so basic, nor are they the same for every infant. The baby care classes prepare you to feed the baby and change a diaper, not how to meet your child's emotional and psychological needs. It is assumed that infants do not have such complex needs. This is just as much crap as the stuff in the diapers. Humans are born complex, psychological creatures, and can have needs that far outstrip basic needs."

Read between the lines: "No one told us, that human beings need love - so we assumed, we didn't need to love Jani as long as we changed her diapers and fed her."

Narcissists are people who don't know what love is. They've never received it, thus they are unable to give it, if it is in regard to themselves or others. All they've ever experienced is need, being ab-/used by others to fulfil these others' needs. This is all they know about relationships: how to ab-/use others to fulfil their own needs. Narcissists are not able to love.

To start with, Jani was physically probably provided for in a satisfactory way. Although one may wonder even in regard to that, taken the "difficult enough", and Michael Schofield's somewhat wistful description of the good old days when he and his wife would spend days in bed, doing nothing, into account... However, it stands out quite clear to me, that Jani emotionally was left high and dry in a more or less complete vacuum, that she spent her life in an emotionally ice-cold environment from day one.

Schofield blames Maslow, says Maslow was wrong. Maslow wasn't wrong. Schofield chooses to misinterpret, in his own favor. Love is a "D-need" in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. And while one can argue if it is right to split up basic human needs into levels, like Maslow did, or if they should be grouped together at one single level, as some critics suggest, they are all deficiency needs, that, if not met, cause suffering.

Schofield also blames Jani, or the "illness", which is basically the same, says that the "illness" made her different, special, more needy than "normal" infants, who would be content, having their basic, physical needs fulfilled. Again, he is dead wrong. Any human being, infant or other, will inevitably suffer if they are deprived of love - or any other basic human need, physical or not, listed by Maslow as a D-need, for that sake.

This is what so-called "schizophrenia" is made of. It is the manifestation of the suffering, that is caused by being deprived of love, by being objectified, and ab-/used to fulfil others' needs. It is the manifestation of protest against that abuse.

Sometimes it is mentioned as a "symptom" of "schizophrenia", that "the schizophrenic" feels s/he's an unwanted child. It's not a symptom of a brain disease. It's the truth. Michael and Susan Schofield didn't want a child. They needed an object, a something, to act out their own trauma.

That this isn't recognized, that it even is blatantly denied, by Shari Roan for instance, but also and even more important by those, who should be the first to recognize it, the "experts", doesn't surprise me the least. It's only symptomatic of a thoroughly narcissistic culture.

P.S.: As for Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, if at all I'd split up the basic human needs, I'd place "love" at the very bottom of it. Human beings can handle a whole lot of suffering if only they are loved. If they are not, they will inevitably go to pieces, sooner or later, with or without other kinds of suffering. And no one who really loves their child, would ever put him/her through, what Jani has been put through by her parents, especially her father.

1 comment:

WillSpirit said...

I just came here via the comment you left on my blog. I commented about Jani on The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive, but having read more about her through your work I now regret what I said.

On the basis of the LA Times article alone, it sounded like she really was organically mentaly ill. I think the history of abuse complicates the picture tremendously. It is impossible, at this stage, to know what she would have been like if she had been raised without such punitive treatment. Maybe she would have had difficulties. Still, it is all-too-clear that the rough treatment she received made things worse. Probably much worse.

As someone who also was severely abused (though fortunately for me the abuse started after age six, so my basic personality had a chance to form) I know firsthand how much childhood mistreatment can alter your behavior and the course of your life. As I went through school I had frequent 'problems with authority', and was often accused of 'acting out'. Since no one knew how I was being treated at home, they just assumed I was a spoiled brat, albeit a supposedly gifted one. Maybe I did act like a brat sometimes, but I had such unmanageable pressures at home that I tended to just 'lose it' at school. Abuse screws up one's socialization, and the earlier it starts the worse the problems become.

I feel badly for Jani. At this point she is in so deep, both emotionally (in terms of her behavior) and psychiatrically (in terms of her medication regimen and situation), that her prognosis looks unpromising. It is possible that she, like many exceptional children who suffer abuse, eventually will rise up to become a unique and creative voice in the world. The sad truth, however, is that she is likely to continue to have problems for a long time. I wish her the best, and hope that this kind of discussion and publicity can help prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.