Saturday, 18 September 2010

The perfect parent

If everything else doesn't pan out, there's one thing you can do to achieve god-like status, perfection, in life: become a parent. At least to judge from the reaction of lots of parents to the least suggestion that maybe, just maybe, they didn't only have an influence on any success achieved by their offspring, but maybe, just maybe, also on one or the other failure, suffering, in their kids' lives, these parents seem to think they don't have to take the least responsibility for their parenting as being a parent in their opinion obviously equals to being the perfect parent. Being a parent seems to, automatically, turn you into some kind of supernatural being, infallible, and beyond any criticism. By definition there's no such thing as "bad parenting", there's no such thing as child abuse, neglect, or any kind of dysfunctional communication patterns acted out by parents towards their children. Parents don't make mistakes. To insinuate that they maybe, just maybe, are no less imperfect, fallible, and human as everybody else, and to ask them to take responsibility for their imperfection, their fallibility, and their humanity, borders to a cardinal sin.

Lola's is a quite interesting comment in this regard. Her daughter's upbringing was nothing less than perfect. No one, least of all Lola herself, made as much as one single mistake raising her daughter. It was all beer and skittles. Well, until "mental illness" struck, like a bolt from the blue. Never mind that alone reading about a "mentally ill" mother (Lola), that is a mother with major "issues", which, since she herself ascribes them to "mental illness", hardly can be anything but unresolved -- and as we all know, unresolved trauma inevitably gets acted out and thus passed on to any children, if there are any --, and about an "ex", into the bargain also this "ex" with "mental health issues", which means divorce, would, and should!, have everybody with just a minimum of insight into the human psyche shudder, and wonder how the kids cope in such a dysfunctional environment. Never mind that reading about all this obvious dysfunctionality wouldn't, and shouldn't!, have anyone with just a minimum of insight into the human psyche be the least surprised when they hear that a kid raised in this dysfunctionality reacts to it developing coping strategies that then, ignoring any insight into the human psyche, and maintaining the delusion of the perfect parent, conveniently can be labelled "mental illness".

There they are, the kids. Initially wanted, not for their own sake, but as an extension of their parents (' egos), whose only purpose in life it is to confirm their parents' infallibility, their god-like perfection as persons. But God help the kids, if they can't or won't fulfil this purpose, if they have the rudeness, selfishness, and ungratefulness to protest and thus expose their parents' violence towards them! Since the violence can't and must not be, in their parents' minds, since acknowledging to it would equal to having to give up on their "God delusion", it has to be the child who's imperfect, indeed defective, diseased.

So, please! psychiatry, step in and silence these rude, selfish, and ungrateful brats' completely unfounded accusations against us with your (pseudo-)scientific, medical authority! Once and for all. Please, label these rude, selfish, and ungrateful brats insane, that is whatever they say or do a symptom of "mental illness", and thereby invalid, not worth being listened to, and please, if ever you can, shut them up, free us from having to hear them scream out in pain over the violence we've inflicted on them!!!

Which also is quite interesting, is to watch some of these perfect parents go even further, not settling for having the rude, selfish, and ungrateful brat silenced, but additionally, in both hugging themselves, and fishing for the sympathy of people with just a minimum of insight into the human psyche, washing their hands of this dirty job of silencing the brat, and accusing psychiatry of being violent. These are the parents who complain about "misdiagnoses", side effects, lack of "treatment" efficacy, lack of services, and so on, and so on.

Sorry people, you have nothing to complain about. You asked for their help, and you got it. At least, they do whatever is in their power to meet your expectations. There's no way how psychiatry, or any other institution, ever could silence your children, and at the same time make them the successes, you initially wanted them to be. Success in life presupposes a language of one's own, through which the self can express itself. No language, no success. You asked for it yourselves. You asked for your children to be turned into non-persons, into a "mental illness", a failure.

You have no right whatsoever to judge and condemn people like Joseph Biederman or the Schofields. What these people do is nothing else but what you asked them to do, respectively what you do yourselves. You have no right to blame the pharmaceutical companies for pushing drugs with debilitating, and partly fatal "side" effects, and covering these "side" effects up. You asked for your children to be debilitated, and rendered lifeless. That you asked for this to happen in a metaphorical way, debilitating and killing your childrens' protesting self, doesn't make a difference. And you also asked for the cover-up. Since no perfect parent would ask for their child to be denied a self.

Psychiatry didn't establish itself, out of the blue. Just like your children didn't become "mentally ill" out of the blue. You asked for psychiatry to be established, in exactly the way it appears today, just like your behavior had your children react to it, and become "mentally ill".

Lastly, there's the returning "walk a mile in my shoes!"-thing. Well, I have. I've been about just as unconscious, unaware, and irresponsible, as these perfect parents are, or choose to be. Because, as mentioned before, the moment you know more than one side of the story, you're not innocent anymore. You stand with a choice, and with the entire responsibility for whatever choice you decide to make. And no, you don't even need to hear another side of the story from some critical professional or survivors, or whoever. You just need to listen to your children's side of the story. You just need to set yourself aside for once, and really listen to them. Not to whatever comes out of their mouth after they were "brought back" to seeing the world through your eyes, while they're drugged up over their own eyeballs, but while they're the most themselves, in "psychosis". You just have to try and walk a mile in your children's shoes.

Apart from all this, I can only wonder why someone, who thinks psych drugs, especially neuroleptics, are not designed for someone like her daughter, read between the lines: while they sure as hell are designed for the "real loonies", those not "misdiagnosed" -- and the concept of "misdiagnosis" always implies that there would be such a thing as correct diagnosis -- kept visiting and commenting on a blog authored by such a "real loony", playing up to this "real loony", who, into the bargain, isn't on any drugs, and, what more is, is a pronounced opponent to psych drugs and labels, and the institution of psychiatry as such. I can only wonder why someone who obviously firmly believes in biologically based brain diseases, at the same time, and repeatedly, joins in whenever there's a call for Soteria Houses. Soteria wasn't created to treat biologically based brain diseases. It was created out of the belief that the alleged biologically based brain diseases indeed were personal, existential crises. -- And the outcomes Soteria produced confirmed this belief to be true, btw. -- So, what's the big idea behind this sailing under false colors, behind this hypocrisy? Why not simply stand by one's convictions? Looking for sympathy? Seeking absolution for one's discriminatory us-and-them-thinking, even from the "real loonies" themselves? I have to disappoint you, X. No sympathy nor absolution for violence available here.

Since somebody pointed out to me that, especially for people who haven't been following X's blog and/or her comments, here or elsewhere, for some time, it might look like I condemn X on the basis of one single remark about psych drugs on her blog: No, I don't. This is what I wrote in reply to this somebody, and I hope, it contributes to a better understanding of what I react to. -- Also I decided to anonymize. As the above mentioned somebody also points out to me, X is by far not the only one to engage in this kind of behavior, so, it's probably a little unfair to mention only her by name:

X has puzzled me for the entire about 2 years I've been following her blog. Lots of critical comments, asking for Soteria Houses, when everybody else was, slamming the Schofields, when everybody else did, or Joseph Biederman, when everybody else did, criticizing one or the other pharmaceutical company, when everybody else did, etc. etc. (and "everybody else" of course means a certain clique in the blogosphere). Still, at the same time there also always were these small inconsistencies. "Misdiagnosis", over and over again, and as if there was such a thing as a correct diagnosis, mentioning "psychosis" and "schizophrenia" as if they were valid labels, just not for her daughter, and also that over and over again. Not just once. But she also successfully avoided to ever take a clear stand, whether she does believe in the labels, in the drugs, in biopsychiatry, or not. So, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. And, frankly, I didn't believe my own eyes when I read her comments at "Lola's story", that quite clearly, and clearer than ever, state that she does believe in the righteousness of for instance a "bipolar"-label for, and the drugging for it of, kids. I mean, read the comments at Fid's blog. Lola writes about 6-year-olds who get labelled and drugged, and are helped by it, and no objection from X. She agrees. Lola's her friend, she admires Lola, Lola's right when she says, kids are helped by psychiatry, its labels, its drugs. I can only conclude that this does not add up with slamming the Schofields for having their 6-year-old daughter labelled and drugged. Not at all. She did it, because everybody else did it. The same applies to her slamming Biederman on her blog. One minute she condemns the man, also joins in whenever people voice ethical concerns about the labelling and drugging of children, the next she agrees that "bipolar" in kids is real. I ask her, at Fid's blog, if this really is what she believes. Yes, it is.

One thing is that I, under these circumstances, couldn't disagree more with her. And I think, I myself don't make a secret of my points of view on my blog. It's pretty clear where I stand. [So, it should have been clear to X, too.] Another is that I a) really don't understand why on earth she doesn't simply say so, when she disagrees, but keeps giving the impression that she would agree with people, when obviously she doesn't, and b) can't do with hypocrites. I actually have more sympathy with someone like Lola than with X. Lola never came to my blog, or made a comment elsewhere, pretending to agree when in truth she didn't.

Additionally, I want to emphasize -- if anybody is in doubt -- that a disagreeing opinion alone, brought forward in a factual manner, has my full respect. What I have no respect for whatsoever is hypocrisy.


Kristin said...

I think you make some valid points. Like always, you have razor sharp vision into this mess. But, I am going to add here that it took me some time to actually understand my stance. I maybe even held onto some of the old concepts until I felt safe enough to let go. When child is very unhappy, a parent feels it in every fiber of their being. To adopt the anti-psychiatry movement in its entirety, I had to assume some of the responsibility of my daughter's distress. Tough to do and guilt is heavy.

Many people are like I was when I didn't know that there are alternatives to the psychiatric industry. I was in constant distress watching my daughter. I witnessed unspeakable horrors and STILL believed that it was the right way to go - because it was the only alternative presented to us. I had been culturally taught to believe in the professionals.

Alternatives need to be put on the table at the first sign of emotional distress. Until then, parents will be dragged into the system because they want to help their kids. Simple as that. If treatment looks like throwing a wet blanket over them, so be it. Been there, done that. I didn't know better and I am assuming that many of the parents that you are talking about don't have a clue either.

Parents are always let off the hook in the current system. More often than not, diagnosis is made without consideration of how someone was raised. Whether in an abusive or coddling environment, doesn't matter in the realm of biopsychiatry. Treat the patients and create chronic users for life.

The other issue is language. Labels and listing symptomology only perpetuates the problem in dealing with mental distress. Lola's mom and Stephany bandy about the language of the DSM and the industry is all the more powerful for it.

The perfect parent is a myth. Anyone who believes in it need to look long and hard at their underlying motives and what they are really looking for. Quiet? Peace? Or real relief for their loved- one. If it is the last option, then they have to own their role in the problems and seek alternative help outside of the psychiatric system.

Duane Sherry said...


I believe the best a parent can do is to work each day at being a better parent.

Any parent worth their weight knows that they've made mistakes, but wakes up every day and does their best to do better... That's how I see it.

Tbis means, of course, accepting the fact that none of us will ever be a perfect parent.

I think that listening to our kids is so important - spending time with them, a lot of time with them!

When all else fails, a parent can listen, and spend time, and search for answers.

The labels, and telling people they cannot get well, telling them they cannot recover is brutal.... absolutely brutal!

It's like telling someone they cannot change the way they think... any of us can, and we can change what we do, and how we live... each of us, all of us.

I suppose some people could charge me with talking out of both sides of my mouth... I can think of nothing more harmful than conventional psychiatry, but I do think that certain integrative treatments can help heal... So, I suppose I do see a physical connection to symptoms....

The difference, I suppose is that I believe a person can get well, fully recover, go on to live a happy and productive life... the exact opposite of biopsychiatry in those areas...

And, when it comes to children, I think drugs should be off-limits... No more mind-altering drugs for kids - period.

I believe in freedom, but I think it has come time to keep psychiatric drugs out of the mouths of kids....

Kids have no choice in these matters, and conventional psychiatry has broken its trust.

There needs to be a moratorium on psychiatric drugs for young children -

By the way, you're not gonna win many points from the NAMI crowd with your strong opinions... Good for you!


Marian said...

Kristin: Yes, people need to know about alternatives, and many don't. Also I think that a lot of people victimize others because they themselves have been victimized, and it's the only way they know how to avoid having to feel and deal with their own pain as well as others' in which they recognize their own, with the hurt child inside, blaming it all on "mental illness", this obscure entity no one can be held responsible for. It's dangerous to acknowledge trauma, pain, because it means you'd have to allow all those feelings of fear and anger towards the people your survival depended on, and who the hurt child inside still depends on, which makes it almost impossible to do anything else but protect and defend these people against anything that might threaten their absolute power, their perfection. At any cost. Their absolute power, their perfection, is yours. It secures your survival. It's a vicious circle that certainly isn't easy to break out of.

Marian said...

Duane: I agree. Body and mind are inextricably linked to each other, and I think a lot can be done "de-toxifying" also the physical environment, and add healthy stuff instead.

And no, no kid should be given psych drugs, ever. Each time I hear parents, people in general, praise these drugs' life saving qualities, I wonder how humanity survived for so long without them, actually, as Whitaker's new book confirms, in better shape than today. All these drugs are saving us from is having to take responsibility, for ourselves and each other. And if you ask me, to run from responsibility is the same as to commit suicide.

Susan said...

My comment exceeded the limits of blogger so will post as 2 separate comments. :)

Marian - I recently came upon your blog and thank you for the awareness of these issues that you are creating with your discussions.

This post strikes and the comments by Kristin and Duane strike home for me because my own life has been irreparably changed by psychiatry.

I came from a dysfunctional background. I knew that I had. I repeated the drama in my own marriage and family. I first turned to the church in the 1980's who endorsed my husbands violence and told me to let him have his way with the children and what had I done to "make" him beat me and treat the children so badly. I followed this path for 10 years.

Then I got new information that there was help that I could learn how to not live like this anymore from a counselor of victims of domestic violence in the early 1990's. So I sought help from the social welfare and mental health system for my children and I who by that time were raging in PTSd type issues with hyper vigilance, insomnia etc. Both of my children were acting out; my daughter was old enough to have found drugs and alcohol to cope by this time in her early teens.

Then the drugs were started and I was told we were all "mentally ill". There is much more to this story that became my living nightmare but suffice it to say that I was aware that my parenting was affecting my children and that we needed help - I needed help to understand how to help them and myself.

But in the end there was no help. There was no counseling. I was instructed by social services to use reward charts for chores, that my "parenting skills" were lacking - well yes.

I was instructed to use physical force to contain my children who were by this time beating me in their own anger and rage at being denied the grief over their losses and pain.

When the reward charts did not work to resolve their "behavior" I was advised to place them in residential facilities as a consequence and when that didn't work I was told that they needed to be hospitalized and medicated. My gorgeous daughter ran away, got pregnant and repeated the cycle in her own life. My beautiful young son became an angry young man and had his own run ins with acting out in many ways.

I was lacking in parenting skills but we had survived horrible war like experiences in escaping my husband and being shunned by the fundamentalist church that was the only social environment we'd had for the entire life of my children. (We were isolated and taught to stay away from friends, neighbors and family who did not believe what the church taught).

In the end - I was drugged to oblivion and my children were drugged into compliance. None of us ever received any grief counseling nor were our experiences EVER part of the discussion. PTSd was always in our charts but we were never counseled for it or taught how to deal with it. We were just medicated. The focus was on me being an inadequate parent and that we were all 'mentally ill'.

The instruction from the system was to separate me from my children (more to it but this is the short version). I went off the deep end (a messy long story in itself) and my children became the next generation of avoidance seekers and all that comes from this background.

I support what you are saying here in your post but want to bring up that even though I knew what I needed - to grieve the traumas and learn parenting skills based on autonomy vs the egoic parenting you mention - these resources were not available to me and my children. When I insisted that something was missing it was attributed to "mental illness" and I was shamed into silence.


Marian said...

(This is part 2 of Susan's comment. Blogger didn't let her post it, so I'll try and do it for her.)

I surrendered my children within a few years of the beginning of this nightmare and simply ceased to exist for the next 15 years until I was fortunate enough to have been suddenly (and painfully) taken off all of the drugs in 2007. I had my brain back but my family and life that I had was gone. Part of my story about my "awakening" from this drugged stupor is on Gianna's blog. 

And today - in both of my children I now see clearly in my new state of being awakened and living in awareness the effect of these experiences - both my parenting and the effect of having been funneled through the social and mental health systems - as they both live with in what the world might identify as "mental illness" and "personality disorders" but I know to be the long lasting effect of their life experiences and being told they were "ill" and incapable. 

I see now in hindsight what could have been done differently to have helped my children and I and I make meaning out of it in attempting to share the light that I found and how I've done what I've done that guided me from that dark place of despair to living in the light and freedom that came from developing the insight into these issues for myself. 

And today I live my "amends" to my children by living my best life and modeling this new life to them. And thankfully I see them both watching and learning from my example. 

(Today after more years in the system and having being told they would never be "normal" and would most likely be institutionalized for "life" both of my children have careers that are inspiring so the ending of the story after leaving - escaping - the mental health and social welfare system of the U.S. played out well).

And Duane - I don't know about your journey but on the biological component - yes; it's called the stress response and it can be managed without chemical alteration of the brain. There is no chemical imbalance IMHO. And after 15 years of living this nightmare I can firmly attest to that it truly is the drugs that cause "mental illness".  The "medicines" may be helpful for some or in stabilizing crisis...but the long term use of them is what created the "disability" and made me incapable of functioning as a human being all those years. I am now in the process of rebuilding my life from literally "ground zero".

So glad to meet you Marion and grateful for your activism 

Susan (A Journey)

Marian said...

Susan: I so read you! It's not only that people need to know that the medical model is but one of several hypotheses (and in fact the one with the least evidence to back it up). Other options than drugs, drugs, and even more drugs also need to be made available to everyone.

Anyhow, when I read your story, I see someone who was, and is, very much aware of the fact that she is a human being, and tried whatever was in her power to take responsibility for her perfectly :) human imperfection, but was denied any possibility to take it by the system. Of course. Being "mentally ill" -- or having a "mental illness", it doesn't make any difference which wording one prefers, the underlying meaning remains the same -- translates into not being able to take personal responsibility, respectively into being incapable of managing one's own affairs. That, IMO, is the whole idea with the concept of "mental illness": to be able to practice social control by dehumanizing people, taking away their human and civil rights, and thus turning them irrevocably ("chronic illness") into victims. Otherwise the system would work contrary to how it does, and would have supported you unconditionally in your efforts to take responsibility, instead of getting in your, and your childrens', way in every regard.

When I read Lola's story, I see someone who, instantly, subscribes to whatever excuse the system offers her for escaping personal responsibility. No matter how flimsy the excuse. If people choose life-long victimhood above freedom, and the personal responsibility that inevitably comes along with it, for themselves, that's sad, but it's their choice. What is thoroughly unethical IMO is when these people abuse those who are dependent on them, like their children are, in order to maintain the delusion that they can't be free and responsible, that they don't have a choice but to be the life-long victim, by forcing the same life-long victimhood on them, too. just because they can't and won't witness anyone walk out of the prison of victimhood, and becoming a free and responsible person, which inevitably would mean they would have to face that, at the end of the day, their own victimhood was and is their own responsibility (!).

What you did is a completely different thing, although it, at first glance, might look similar to what Lola, and so many others with her, did and does. You fought for your and your children's freedom. You weren't afraid to take responsibility. And I'm glad that you and your children won! :)

Susan said...

Thanks Marion:) I guess we did win in that we are no longer victims of this system. But the price we paid was very high and there is no justice to be had for what we lost. There will be no malpractice lawsuit, no settlement to make up for the 20 years of lost earning potential or the emotional pain or the time it will take me to reconstruct my life. I was a healthy 30 sometime in the early 90's. 20 years is a long time to lose and its been a challenge to not live in resentment and choose to move forward instead.

There is of course more to this story - but I can onl spend so much time on it and then need to leave it behind again and face forward. With that - good night and thanks for your kind words:)