Friday, 1 January 2010

Recovered to death. How the system's distorted recovery concept kills

Early last month I learned that one of the regular contributers to Outsideren, the user magazine I wrote for in 2007 and 2008, had been found dead in her bed one morning in late November. Dorthe Raffenberg was 41 years old, and in addition to being one of three people forming the group Standup recovery, giving talks about recovery, she also was very much engaged in sports, especially running and skiing. So, you might say, Dorthe was quite fit, physically. But Dorthe was labelled "paranoid schizophrenic", and had been taking drugs for years. Clozaril during the past years. For, you see, Dorthe was a real fighter. She didn't just give up that easily. It took several years in locked wards, uncountable times in restraints, and a considerable dosage of Clozaril to eventually shut her up and break her spirit.

I found a review of one of Standup recovery's talks on the net: "The trio's talk at Skovvænget [assisted housing facility for "the mentally ill"] focussed on that it is possible to recover, but that recovery presupposes acceptance of one's illness", and: "During the talk it became clear that it were several different elements that had been decisive for Dorthe, Christian and Martin each to achieve recovery." The review is dated from May 2006. According to it, Dorthe was recovered in May 2006.

As mentioned, I knew Dorthe in 2007 and 2008, met her regularly at Outsideren's monthly editorial meetings. I remember Dorthe as being clearly sedated. Her thinking and talking (and movements) were remarkably slowed down. And although I've never known her other than under the influence of Clozaril, there was no doubt that what I saw was just the shadow of the Dorthe that could have been, if... If she'd got help instead of Clozaril.

"Dorthe tells a horrible story about abuse, suicide attempts...", the review states. Abuse. I remember, that Dorthe at one editorial meeting spoke about her "delusions". Everybody did. Just for fun. Nothing more funny than to think of just how raving mad one was, in those days, is there? In those days before the Clozaril did it's job, and efficiently ended one's unconscious reactions, to the abuse for instance. Yeah. Everybody was dying laughing at such an amount of incredibly amusing and meaningless madness. Everybody but me. I felt sick, actually. Felt like running away, leaving everybody else to their "insight", the insight that their faulty genes and brain chemistry had been the cause of such an amount of incredibly amusing and meaningless madness. "I acted/thought/felt like this and that because I'm a paranoid schizophrenic, hahaha!" Hilarious, yeah, really. Instead of the "I'm angry, scared, desperate, because I've been abused", that might lead to someone else but one's own genes and neurotransmitters being held responsible. Not quite as amusing, the responsibility-thing, nope.

Probably, the faulty genes and brain chemistry also were to blame for the abuse to have taken place at all: "You (your faulty genes and brain chemistry) made me do this to you." Yeah. Sure.

According to the review it presupposes "acceptance of one's illness" to recover. Dorthe, eventually, gained this acceptance. Acceptingly, she took her daily dose of Clozaril. Dorthe died on November 19th, 2009, 41 years "old", and I'm not a sec in doubt about the cause of death: acceptance of her illness. And the inevitably following, regular ingestion of Clozaril. Dorthe died from having "insight" and being "compliant". She died from having achieved what the mh system has distorted "recovery" to mean.

The last article Dorthe wrote for Outsideren quotes the president of Dansk psykiatrisk selskab, the Danish psychiatric association, Anders Fink-Jensen: "If psychotropic drugs were dangerous that would be very disturbing, and they wouldn't be approved for use,..."

P.S.: I haven't posted anything lately because I wanted to do this piece before posting anything else, and although I've written about it on my Danish blog several weeks ago, I just couldn't do it here before.

Anyhow, I hope, everybody had great holidays, and a Happy New Year to all of you!


Mark p.s.2 said...

Laughter even if misguided is still an emotional release, which is good-as in healthy. I don't think I would have laughed at that meeting, but people need to release pent up feelings, humor is a tool. You yourself I believe found humor in the attempts to communicate on Furious Seasons website( the endless argueing).

susan said...


I am sorry to hear about your friend. I would love to read what she wrote- is it in English?

Happy Happy New Year to you and Lord Tennyson. I hope it's a good one for both of you.....If I cannot come back in the next life as a cat, Iwould like to come back as a horse.

Marian said...

Mark: The ongoing "argument clinic" at FS (and similar places) - you bet, I found humor in it :D

I'd probably joined the humor at Outsideren if it hadn't been for the "delusions" and stuff getting explained away to be a result of defective genes and brain chemistry. I've indeed had some good laughs with friends whom I shared my own "mad stuff" with. Black humor can be a great tool.

Marian said...

Susan: No, she wrote in Danish. You can try Google translate, but of course the result may not be perfect...

A Happy New Year to you and Holly too!

Rossa Forbes said...

Thanks. Hard to know what else to say.