Monday, 4 August 2008

Here's to my therapist - More on "schizophrenia" and the myth about a sick society

So, here it is, eventually. The translation of some maybe a bit controversial thoughts about so-called "schizophrenia" and genes - or mutated chromosomes. It took some time, because of my recent, rather unpleasant encounter with militant pro-psychiatry, and I don't guarantee for the quality of the translation. I'm tired, and don't feel up to doing any editing tonight.

Some esoteric élitist, sectarian, or just megalomanic thoughts about "schizophrenia" as a condition with a genetic predisposition.

"It can't be ruled out for genes to enter into it", my therapist said at my last session a good seven months ago. At that time I was just about to, once again, get rather angry, because I felt discriminated and, well, indeed threatened by this remark, that labelled me genetically defective. Defective. I chose to swallow my anger, then. I was, anyway, on my way out of the door, for the last time, so what.

In the meantime, I've thought a lot about a possible connection between "psychosis", genes, and politics. Here are some of my thoughts, in reference to Thomas Werge's and the Establishment's delight about maybe to have found a biological, genetic cause for "schizophrenia".

If it ever should prove correct, that for instance some certain mutated chromosomes increase the risk to develop "schizophrenia" (and I will believe it the moment I hear people like Grace Jackson or Peter Breggin approve of it, not before), it still is no proof of "schizophrenia" to be an illness, that needs to be "treated", that needs to be knocked down as effectively as possible, and be "kept in check" by all means, as the Establishment usually puts it, through suppressing the experience of "symptoms", and otherwise through silencing and zombifying "the schizophrenic" with brain damaging neurotoxins, euphemistically called "anti-psychotics". It is far from proof of that these mutations ought to be seen as a defect in the persons genes.

As one of the societies, the modern western world fancies to call "primitive", the Maori for instance regard "mental illness", that is existential crises, as a sign of something not functioning at its optimum in society (cf. "schizophrenia" being a reaction to a sick society), and that thus ought to be changed.

These "primitive" societies do not see "schizophrenia", "psychosis" in general, as an illness, but as a gift, that nevertheless needs that the gifted individual learns to handle and make constructive use of. "Treatment" thus consists of, partly, teaching the individual skills to handle and make constructive use of his gift, and partly of acknowledging the "symptoms", the reactions to society, without exception as unconditionally meaningful. Especially this second part of the "treatment" distinguishes the Maori's approach to "psychosis" from the modern western culture's approach, that only and at the most communicates so-called "coping strategies", preferably through CBT, that aren't meant to do anything but to re-adjust the individual as far as possible to an unchanged sick and destructive society. The kind of CBT, that generally is practised in a psychiatric context, is designed to change, adjust, discipline the individual in a way that lets society escape any change on its side.

In her blog entry "Speaking of Monkeys" Patricia Lefave writes about seeing the "gorilla". Instead of "gorilla", one could just as well put "society's destructive forces and behavior patterns". Like warfare, pollution and social injustice, like the witch hunt on differently thinking and thus "disturbing" people ("the mentally ill", "drug addicts", "the criminals"), but also discriminating and humiliating communication patterns in micro-societies such as families (cf. Bateson and Laing), that altogether are a result of modern western culture's egocentric (neo-liberalist) and thus insatiable hunt for more and more monetary profit, and of the profiling neurosis of the ego, its insatiable need for more and more fame and power, that formed the basis for this egocentric culture's rise and continued existence.

Even if there should be biological, genetic causes for some people to react "psychotic" to dysfunctional aspects of society, it would be far from being a carte blanche for the Establishment to discriminate and fight these people, as it is done today in our modern western society - and as it has been done so many times before, also before the beginnings of psychiatry about 250 years ago. For example in shape of the Inquisition.

People who react as sensitive to society as to become "psychotic" confronted with a sufficient amount of destructiveness and dysfunction, have an enormous potential (maybe even a genetically greater potential than "normal" people...) to contribute to a positive and constructive transformation and development in society, that could make society more, well, humane to live in for everyone, both on a psychological, sociological and ecological level. Alternatives like Soteria have shown, that non-medical, non-psychiatric treatment strengthens and develops this potential, while psychiatric, medical treatment suppresses and, long term, destroys it. One of several reasons why the Establishment, and not only the psychiatric one but also the political one, don't appreciate alternatives like Soteria. One of several reasons why the Establishment prefers to pay for countless people on "medicine"-created disability, instead of giving society's dissidents a language and through that a voice in society.

Seen from this angle, only a really sick society will seek to label these people as ill (so that society itself won't seem ill), and will clamp down on these people with the devastating force the modern western society clamps down on them today, with the help of psychiatry. And with the only goal to secure the undisturbed continued existence of its own devastating way of "functioning".

A quite common "symptom" of "psychosis" is the "delusion" of being chosen to save humanity. Another one is that of being persecuted - by the proponents of a destructively functioning society, symbolized for example by the CIA, and in some cases also symbolized by the mental health system. Are these "insane" and thus worth- and meaningless "delusions"? Or does there maybe lie a fundamental truth in these ideas?

At the risk of sounding slightly esoterically élitist, sectarian, or simply megalomanic and paranoid (depending on whose eyes are looking at it), I have to admit that I more and more tend to believe in those who say, the future is ours - unless the devastating modern westernness reaches to arrange for humanity as a whole, and thus also for those of us who maybe have some mutated chromosomes that make them see "gorillas", not to have any future. For example with the help of "preventive treatment for those individuals who are at a high risk of developing the illness". That is, not only by putting those people out of action who already do protest and send alarm signals through their reactions to society, but even everybody who maybe could risk to do so in future.

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