Saturday, 18 July 2009

Another reply to Will

Here's another reply to Will at WillSpirit:

My way to union with the great consciousness... I'm still on my way, Will. I haven't arrived there yet. Like you, I've had certain experiences, epiphanies, peak experiences... I've even spent longer periods of time in a state of inner peace. But I've not attained that state of mind once and for all. I know, that such a place exists, because I've been there. But if being there was a constant thing, at least my Danish blog would look a lot different from what it does. Probably also this one, although it usually isn't quite as pugnacious as the Danish one.

This is something, I thought I'd write a post on its own about, but I may as well at least mention it here and now. For a long time, I've felt sort of an obligation to frequently comment on news articles and stuff on my Danish blog. There are no other blogs commenting critically on what's going on specifically in the field of psychiatry in Danish. And surprisingly many people have told me, they have difficulty navigating and reading sites in English or American. The mh system in this country hasn't only a monopoly when it comes to treatment, but also in regard to which information gets out, and which doesn't... To a far greater extent than in English -speaking countries. Go figure...

One aspect of this is that I found myself constantly confronted with lies, prejudice, ignorance, cynicism, ... in short: violence, exhibited by the news articles etc. I had to read in order to comment on them. Another is that the same violence regularly tried to make it to my comment field, respectively made it to my mail inbox. It is toxic, and it is extremely contagious. It goes straight for the ego, and if you don't watch out, the ego will take control and start a war. Especially if you've been a victim of violence before. You can observe it all over the mh blogosphere. Egos trying to get at each other, acting out their personal trauma. And repeating it, over and over again. Guess, who gets hurt...

I'm certainly no saint. I've engaged in several wars lately. Increasingly belligerent. Acting out and repeating past trauma. It gives a very short-lived, superficial satisfaction to make someone one's enemy and bash them, with some scathing irony for instance. But when the moment of satisfaction is over, it does nothing but hurt. And then you need another moment of satisfaction. And another one, and another one... I've actually suffered a whole lot, recently. Enough to have me reconsider the future of my blogs, and my engagement in the mh-debate on the internet in general. That's what suffering is good for. To bring about change.

Well, drugs. Drugs certainly can open some doors. Hallucinogens especially. And they don't altogether have the sedating, deadening effect that neuroleptics have. However, they altogether alienate oneself from oneself to a certain extent. Watch this: - BTW a channel I recommend, SFJane.

As for me, I didn't have to clear my brain of pharmaceuticals. I spent my youth moving in what you might call "alternative" circles, where natural drugs like marijuana etc. weren't regarded a big problem, while everybody was highly suspicious of any kind of chemicals. In addition, psychoanalytical theories were the thing. I didn't even know, that psychiatry - or rather: the pharmaceutical industry - had come up with a concept of emotional distress being brain diseases, before I saw myself confronted with the "news" in context with my last crisis in 2004. It had always been a matter of fact to me, that whatever the problem, it certainly was a reaction to one's environment. The massive propaganda everywhere of course had me doubt this matter of fact for a while. It just didn't add up, it made no sense. What made sense, was reading Laing's The Divided Self, and what I remembered from Joanne Greenberg's I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, which I'd read as a teen.

Well, and then add to that the controlled and oppressed individual's pronounced desire for freedom and self-determination on the one hand, and her just as pronounced suspiciousness towards any authority that tries to take control and oppress on the other. Of course my reaction was: "I alone know what's best for me. No one and nothing messes with my mind but I myself." Luckily, this was respected. So, the only drugs I still will have to clear my brain of are caffeine and nicotine...

I've tried a benzo, once (apart from a suicide attempt that involved valium, but that's a different story). Nasty. Very very nasty. And it would have been even more nasty to experience that amount of loss of control, if it had happened during crisis. That is, during a period of time, where my true self openly rebelled against being controlled and oppressed. - Does psychiatric "treatment" worsen "symptoms"? It certainly does. Maybe not always, but often enough. Involuntary "treatment" by definition.

Last but not least, I was sort of intuitively convinced, that taking anything to numb out the pain would be extremely counterproductive, as I was determined as hell to find out, what the meaning was. And how were I supposed to figure out the meaning, when the pain was gone?

"A major objection to the use of the anti-psychotic drugs in acute crisis situations is that because they are such powerful central nervous system suppressants they may well have the effect of preventing crisis resolution. They are powerful enough to abort a psychological process, which if supported and understood, would resolve itself in the context of a relationship," Loren Mosher says here

The "symptoms" I experienced were indeed signposts, that showed me, clearly and unmistakably, whenever I was on the right track, trying to figure out what had caused what was going on. Without having them show me the way, the whole therapeutic process would have been a grope in the dark, unlikely to lead anywhere, since I was the only one who had the answers to all of my questions. In spite of what many people seem to expect, therapists obviously aren't there to know and tell their clients all the answers. Their only task is to suggest different angles from which to look at the questions, so that one of these angles hopefully may reveal the answer.

Numbing "symptoms" with neuroleptics leaves the client dependent on the therapist coming up with the answers, which actually is, what I see happen all over the place. - A Norwegian blog-neighbour of mine once was told by her therapist: "You know, the problem with you is that you resist being formed." Of course, my Norwegian blog-neighbour did the only reasonable thing, and ended the relationship with this "therapist". - Very convenient for society. But it won't do for the client, as it doesn't provide anything but, at best, just another false ego-identification.

So, in fact I embraced my "symptoms", because I knew, they were showing me the way out of my suffering.

I understand, that not everybody at any time has the opportunity to do as I did. The circumstances were without doubt in my favor. I had the space around me, that allowed me to "freak out" whenever I needed to, and I had someone, who supported me (almost) unconditionally. Most people unfortunately don't have that today. But that does far from mean, that they shouldn't have it. If I say, drugs are okay to use, I indirectly approve of the current paradigm of "care". I can't do that.

Basically, what I would like people to realize is that it doesn't matter what kind of label, how "serious" the problem, drugs simply aren't the answer, other than as a very short-term emergency solution, and never against the will of the person in crisis. I'd like to see the very common misconception eradicated, that there would be people, whose suffering is too severe to be met other than by (massive and long-term) drugging. There aren't. Everybody has the potential to recover, and no one should ever be prevented from it. Actually, it is often those, who suffer the most, and who seem to be "lost cases", who make the most remarkable recoveries. Given they get the right support. Because their extreme suffering also means an extreme incentive to change, and extremely clear signposts on the way to change. This is, what I reacted the most to in your initial post. That some people would need to be drugged. They don't. This, and the idea that all someone would be able to achieve, was learning to live with a chronic illness. It is not a chronic illness.

Compared to what is perceived as "normal" - and "normal" does not equal to "natural", "normal", in contrast to "natural", is a cultural construct - I certainly have "issues", still today. I'm still sensitive to noise, "noisy" visual perceptions, I still hear voices, I haven't abandoned but re-interpreted my "delusions". Does that make me an ill person? I don't think so. I think, it actually makes me more natural, so to speak, than I would be if I were perfectly adjusted to our normality. To me it's a strength, not an illness. Although it also is a lot more challenging to live in our "normal" and increasingly alienated from (human) nature world, and be naturally sensitive, than I imagine it to be for someone, who's sufficiently alienated from their own human nature and nature in general to be regarded well-adjusted to society, I wouldn't want to trade off that sensitivity for any amount of well-adjustment. I wouldn't want to trade off my true self, my true nature, for just another false ego-identification, that inevitably would lead to crisis again and again. In the end, if people think, I'm "weird" because I hug a tree, or have conversations with garden spiders, that's their problem, not mine.

I do understand and respect people who choose long-term medication when indeed they don't have a choice. That people aren't given a choice, is what I can't and won't condone.

1 comment:

WillSpirit said...

Despite what I said back at WillSpirit, I think my response is probably too long to place here (now that I see the space it consumes). So I'm making it into a blog post. Best wishes.