Friday, 25 June 2010

Free John Hunt! Sign the petition!

John Hunt is a trauma survivor with a diagnosis of 'paranoid schizophrenia'. He has spent over four years locked up in Carraig Mor psychiatric treatment centre in Cork city, Ireland. 

He has been over-medicated on an array of psychotropic medications with dangerous adverse effects. He has had tardive dyskinesia, akathasia and has developed incontinence. His physical/ mental/ emotional/ spiritual health has been severely neglected and has deteriorated since being in Carraig Mor. 

He has had no access to a rehabilitation team or psychotherapist and no day release in two years. There are no plans to rehabilitate John and return him to the community where he belongs. He is merely maintained and contained. John and his family have no voice in relation to his future. We are afraid that John's physical health is being damaged considerably. We cannot stand by and watch this happen any longer.

Read more on John's partner Grainne Humphrys' blog The Incarceration of John, and on Beyond Meds

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

And this is for Susan

Mestizo (left), Quarter Horse x Andalusian, and Barbiche (right), Quarter Horse 


First of all, thank you to everybody, Stephany, Rossa, and, well, you know who you are, for your understanding, support, and your critique, and not least for the "reminder" to keep my cool another time. No, my approach wasn't exactly buddhist. 

I saw the picture of Mark Becker, and read the post, and what both immediately turned into in my mind was a mug shot of me, and a call to have me locked up and thrown away the key (= feed me Geodon, if necessary -- and I can assure everybody that it would be necessary -- forcibly). I actually went right into the trap of ego-identification, and my ego, feeling deeply insulted, threw the insult back at Doug Bremner, supplying him with the ammunition to fire back at me with. And so he did. I asked for it, I got it.

This is what The Drama is made of: get at people, and make them react. Add to that the ingredient of denying that you were getting at them ("We're only trying to help you!"), and what you get is madness. Because unless they've seen through these dynamics, people will inevitably start and yell louder and louder in their desperate attempt to make the other recognize and admit to that what they're doing isn't helpful in any way, but actually harmful, and stop it. And if you just yell loud enough, all of a sudden you fit the criteria for a psych label, all of a sudden your protesting becomes symptoms of an illness. What up to then was "You must be crazy to imagine this" or "You're not quite right in the head to think that" something along those lines, suddenly becomes "295.(pick a number)". And if that doesn't has you see through the dynamics, and for most people it won't, you, of course, start to yell as loud as you possibly could. Which is what everybody has been waiting for, as it allows them to lock you up, and shut you up with Geodon. Ah, peace and quiet, finally! They don't do it consciously, but still, it is what they're doing: getting at you, harassing, bullying you, ever more violently, in order to have you react ever more violently. So that, eventually, they can shut you up, without ever having to admit to, neither to you nor, and maybe even more important, to themselves, that what they call "help", "care" and "love", indeed is abuse, violence.

Doug Bremner writes that he isn't responsible for whatever happened to me, and certainly, in as far as he never harassed, bullied, abused me directly -- at least not until his response to my criticism --, he isn't. But from a broader perspective, in supporting, working for a system that more often than not denies respectively covers up the violence in our society, laundering it, so that it appears to be help, he so is.

Of course, Doug Bremner is far from alone in this. We all do it/have done it, at one time or the other. But that's no excuse for not taking responsibility. And it certainly is no excuse, if you have chosen help and care for people in crisis as your profession. If no one else, as the expert he claims to be, Doug Bremner should be capable of recognizing the dynamics of violence in society, and what they do to people. It isn't impossible. There have been, and there are others who did/do recognize it. R.D. Laing, Silvano Arieti, Richard Bentall, John Read, are just a few of them. Instead, he choses to dismiss both people's personal experiences, calling them for a "symptom" of "schizophrenia", a "delusion", establishing a razor sharp distinction between PTSD and "schizophrenia" -- in lack of biomarkers using terminology: flash backs become "hallucinations", hypervigilance becomes "paranoia", avoidance becomes "withdrawal", "mutism", "catatonia", etc. etc. --, as well as any research that takes people's personal experiences seriously as the "return of the theory of the schizophrenogenic mother", thus issuing a carte blanche for the violence to be continued. 

I've seen it being done innumerable times before. Which had me go through the roof this time, are the particular circumstances that made it particularly insidious. The fact that somebody, who, allegedly, is an expert in trauma -- not only professionally, but also and even personally -- denies trauma, and in doing so, adds considerably to it, made the dehumanization I witnessed on his blog, and that I, as someone who got an "sz" label thrown at herself, very non-buddhist, took very personally, so much more appalling in my eyes. So, off I went, right through the roof, and my ego told me exactly how to get at Doug Bremner, and return the insult most efficiently. It is not that I mention his mother, his own history of trauma, but that I do it sarcastically, setting up a trap for him -- which he, or his ego, walked right into -- in not pointing out the fact that I for one, who didn't experience anything but pure emotional abuse/neglect, the most invisible, and hardest to trace and prove kind of abuse/neglect, certainly not am in a position to play down anyone else's trauma. "If he can't figure that out, too bad for him, ha!" That was mean, yes. And I should have taken a step back from my ego, before I wrote my first post about this matter. I'm guilty of not having done that. That I didn't do it consciously, on purpose, doesn't free me from having to take responsibility for it, and I'm sorry.

What I'm not sorry about is that I brought up the matter of discrimination against and dehumanization of labelled people for discussion. An important and necessary discussion to take, I think. 

Note that Doug Bremner refers to me as "they", anonymizing me, which could be said to be fine if it wasn't that I was out here, with my full name. Doug Bremner has several times been attacked -- indeed, attacked -- by his own in the past. I've read most of these attacks, and they weren't exactly edifying reading. Some of it was, IMO, clearly below the belt. Nevertheless, and as far as I remember, in his replies to these attacks, Doug Bremner never once anonymized his opponents. So, where is the difference between these people and me? Well, these people, in Doug Bremner's eyes, aren't "mental patients", but people, human beings, persons, with names. No matter how "mean" their attacks, they thus still deserve the respect to not be called "they", as if they were some sort of nonperson. As the "schizophrenic" (=nonperson) I am in his eyes, I don't deserve this respect.

That I have a background in academia, probably broader than Doug Bremner's, and in, among other disciplines, philosophy, according to Wikipedia (yeah, I know... - but it actually sums it up quite well) "the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language", (my italics) while there so far exists no scientific evidence that definitely proves crisis to be a medical, and not an existential problem, is of no importance the moment, I also am the identified "mental patient". Neither is the fact that I am crisis experienced, that I can draw knowledge about crisis not only from observations from the outside, but also from experience from the inside. This is the difference between somatic illness and "mental illness". "Mental illness" isn't and will never be the same as somatic illness, it will never be "like diabetes". Someone suffering from diabetes who says: "This intervention/these pills make/-s me feel sicker," is listened to and taken seriously. The identified "mental patient" who says: "The Geodon makes me feel lousy," is, at best, ignored, if s/he keeps on "complaining", "looking for attention", not to mention if s/he tosses out the Geodon, that makes him/her feel lousy, if s/he rejects psychiatry's "help", and says: "This is not the help I feel, I'm in need of," it qualifies him/her to be forcibly subjected to this very same "help". Any expression of not feeling helped by psychiatry is explained away by defining it as just another "symptom" of the "illness". It is not ever taken seriously, not taken as a sign that maybe the "help" isn't help, that maybe the helpers have overlooked something, that maybe a different approach is needed. It can't be, because the present approach is carefully thought out to do exactly what it does: silencing any protest, any resistance, any dissent, in relation to both psychiatry itself as well as in relation to society in general. As the institution of psychiatry represents the very essence of societal, cultural norms and values, and is designed to protect these against any protest, resistance, and dissent.

Now, it's not that I think that my educational background would make me in any way more respectable, more "worthy", than anybody else. Anybody, disregarded their social, educational, cultural, etc. background and status, deserves to be respected equally, not discriminated against. All life forms actually deserve to be respected. But this isn't how our civilization works. We've established an artificial pecking order where things like education, material wealth, race, gender, and the power they provide, are a lot more important than life itself. We all know that psychiatry promotes this pecking order big time. But since Doug Bremner can't really dismiss my criticism arguing that i would lack education and knowledge -- he tried that, it didn't work out too well -- he resorts to the ultimate dismissal, pathologizing my criticism, and declaring me a nonperson, defining me. That is the power he and his colleagues have been assigned by society, and that I do not have. The power to define others.

The following is taken from an article in a Norwegian journal, Magasinet Selvsagt!, about ableism:

"To deprive people of the power to define themselves is at the core of discrimination, says Salman Rushdie. This is language of power, you are in control of the person in question. The first step on the way to respect people, or groups of people as equal, is to listen to them when they define themselves. The greatest victory for the other discriminated against groups [the article refers to women, gay people, and black people] has probably been that they won the power to define themselves. They have decided on their own who and what they are. They have defined their own group's problems, and they've acted out of this definition. We disabled people haven't managed to do this. We've left it to medical and other professionals, to politicians and the media to define us. We've left it to them to describe us in their language, out of their understanding of us. And we have adopted this understanding, and made it our own." (My translation)

I wouldn't even adopt the term "disability" as the prefix "dis-" usually implies something that is perceived as negative. Anyhow, my mistake was that I actually did it, that I adopted others' definition of myself. I identified with Mark Becker, and Doug Bremner's definition of him as the "schizophrenic", the pickaxe killer, the nonperson, so I confirmed Doug Bremner's power to define me. Instead of taking it from him. It may well be that psychiatrists have the power to define people, but they only have this power to the extent that we react to their provocations, playing the part they've assigned us in their drama. 

Sunday, 20 June 2010

"My pain is worse than yours!" Some reflections on PTSD vs. "schizophrenia", on the trivialization of trauma, and on responsibility

A commenter, Stephany, at Doug Bremner's blog seems to think that I engage in what she calls the " 'my pain is worse than yours' BS". In my previous post I pointed out that what I did, when I wrote about his loss, was that I looked at his experience from the perspective that most of his colleagues, and obviously, when it comes to others than himself, also Doug Bremner himself, employ. I looked at it from Doug Bremner's own, biopsychiatric perspective. 

If you have listened to the Madness Radio interview with Jacqui Dillon, you may have noticed that she mentions having been denied the possibility to talk about her life experiences not only in her assessment interview, but also throughout her entire stay in the psychiatric system. Whenever she tried to bring up the matter, her "care"givers in the system told her to focus on the present and future, not on the past. I myself hear it again and again, that people are told "You must forgive!" -- Forgive what, by the way?? If there's no trauma, and this is what these people also are told, over and over again, and at the very same time, that whatever pain they are experiencing it certainly isn't caused by any trauma, but by this mysterious, biological brain disease called "schizophrenia", I'd think, there can be nothing to forgive. Hm, strange. But well, logic and psychiatry - they don't really go that well together. -- So, the biopsychiatric approach obviously implies that, no matter what you have experienced in your life, it can impossibly have been worse than to have caused you to react to it with what then earns you a label of PTSD. As soon as your reaction exceeds just slightly whatever standards "experts" like Doug Bremner -- on the basis of their personal, on the at any time prevailing cultural norms and values, not on that of any scientific evidence , founded, convictions -- have put down for a label of PTSD, the label you receive from these "experts" will likely be that of "schizophrenia".  And as soon as you have received that label, instead of the PTSD-one, poof!, all the trauma you ever might have experienced didn't happen but inside your own, diseased mind, it's all in your head.  And even if any of it happened, it wasn't worse than that you just should forgive and forget all about it. 

While, as we all know, telling your story, talking about what happened to you, making sense of it -- which is what Doug Bremner for instance tries to do in writing about his mother's death -- is an essential step on the road to recovery for someone who suffers from PTSD, telling what the "experts" choose to believe must be a mere fantasy, talking about what they choose to believe never happened to you, isn't allowed, as it only would upset them you, make you a threat to their scheme of things "worse", in case they have chosen that you suffer from "schizophrenia".  

So, how convenient that there are no biological tests for neither PTSD nor any other "mental illness", that it is more or less entirely up to the personal preferences of your shrink, mainly depending on how much pain s/he is able to recognize and validate without terror taking over, and having him/her turn blind and deaf, and only looking to shut you up, now!, which label you'll receive from him/her. And, pop!, before you know where you are, you're no longer a traumatized human being, but a brain diseased freak, who risks to have his/her mug shot appear on Doug Bremner's blog, accompanied by a Fuller Torrey-TAC-worthy call for you to be stripped of whatever, if any, human rights you might have left. What a truly sensitive, the human being and his/her pain respecting and validating approach!

Trauma, pain, suffering cannot be measured and weighed in the same way as blood pressure or, well, insulin. An experience is just as traumatic as the person, who experiences it, experiences it to be traumatic. Indeed, it's all in your head. And no matter whether it's called PTSD or "schizophrenia", or whatever else.

So, while I, in applying the biopsychiatric perspective, could claim that there are innumerable four and a half-year-olds in this world, who experience the death of their mother without being traumatized by it (another one of biopsychiatry's favorites: "Other people have experienced the same you have without becoming psychotic/schizophrenic. So, stop whining about your past, and get on with your life [as the chronically brain diseased freak we reserve for ourselves the right to define you to be]!"), thus trivializing Doug Bremner's pain, I for one prefer to see him, his reaction, and to draw my conclusions about the "size" of his pain, the extent of trauma he has experienced from what I see there. The in my opinion only valid "measurement" for trauma, pain and suffering: the individual's individual experience of and reaction to it.

Personally, I didn't lose neither my mother nor my father as a four and a half-year-old, I wasn't sexually abused like Jacqui Dillon, I wasn't battered, screamed and shouted at, or physically neglected in any way. My parents had no financial problems, and there was no fighting, or drinking, or anything like that going on at our house. We were the perfect upper middle class family. Nothing "dramatic" ever happened before I was about 13 years old, and what happened from then on until my father's death four years later happens in the best of families, it happens all the time, and most of the children who experience it do not end up "psychotic"/"schizophrenic". "So, where's the trauma?" I can hear the Doug Bremners of this world ask. And, until 6 years ago, I wouldn't have been able to answer him other than with what he would have interpreted to be the "delusions" and "hallucinations" of a chronically brain diseased, genetically defective freak, because he's too afraid to see anything, but what our culture has decided simply is too obvious to be covered up, because all he would have been able to see was the perfect upper middle class family, in whose bosom I'd experienced the perfectly happy, safe and protected upper middle class childhood that clearly didn't involve any trauma at all.

So, why would I, who cannot even play the "I lost my mother when I was only four and a half years old"-card, want to trivialize Doug Bremner's grief, and why on earth would I, who hasn't experienced anything of what our culture recognizes as "trauma", want to engage in the "my pain is worse than yours" BS -- and it is BS, yes -- Stephany?? In fact, I'm the first to stand up and speak out against the ongoing trivialization of people's pain and suffering, that biopsychiatry so happily engages in -- that is what I do in criticizing Doug Bremner's post about Mark Becker -- as well as against the "my pain is worse than yours" BS that I witness everywhere among consumers, where it, characteristically enough, finds its most pronounced expression in the discrimination against, and demonization of "the schizophrenics", and not least in the invalidation of these people's trauma and pain as "delusions", perpetrated by people with all  kinds of other psych labels, not least those who claim to have been misdiagnozed as "schizophrenic" when in reality they were traumatized. As if "schizophrenia" and having been traumatized were opposites. Well well, also the discriminated against need their scapegoats to pass the discrimination, the violence, on to. And of course it is the most natural and safe thing to pass it on to those, who are assigned the place at the bottom of the pecking order by the almighty authority of biopsychiatry: "the schizophrenics". Of whom I am one of, traumatized, recovered, but still, never misdiagnozed.

I recommend a look at my own story, before anyone next time jumps to conclusions, and insinuates that I would trivialize anyone's trauma, and/or engage in the "my pain is worse than yours" BS.

As for the at Doug Bremner's blog's comment section also present accusation against me that I would engage in a simplistic "blame the parents" approach: if you call holding the people, who according to their own perception of themselves (!) are responsible, grown-up human beings, responsible is a simplistic "blame the parents" approach, then, yes, then I do engage in it. However, the accusation itself is a simplistic, cheap (!) attempt to escape having to take responsibility, and I think, everybody who makes use of it knows this very well. If you don't know it, I recommend reading Laing again (I suppose, you have read him before you went on to dismiss of his ideas?!), as you obviously got him all wrong.

"With rare exceptions, I think parents do their best. They try. But there are a lot of ways in which they can go astray." -Loren Mosher

Is it really so much more painful and terrifying for you to face your own imperfection as parents, your own humanity, than to witness your children lose their mind over your inability to face it?

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Kafka, The Trial. An additional remark to Doug Bremner's attempt to defend himself against my criticism

Note that Doug Bremner writes in his post that he has no idea whether Mark Becker was traumatized by his family, since he "never interviewed them"(my emphasis). In my first post on this matter, I asked Doug Bremner, if he'd ever listened, without prejudice, to Mark Becker himself.

I encourage everybody to listen to, if nothing else from about 00:16:00 to about 00:21:00, this Madness Radio interview with Jacqui Dillon.

What is going on during this kind of "investigations" is that everybody else but the identified mental patient is listened to and taken seriously. Of course, the, in advance, identified mental patient can't be listened to, not to mention be taken seriously. It goes without saying that you can't take a disease, an imbalanced brain chemistry, defective genes, seriously. So, what immediately may look like an investigation, looking to reveal the truth, in fact is a charade, set up to, with professional authority once and for all, conceal the truth, and confirm what never was intended to be questioned anyway: that any accusations against the family (or whoever else) clearly were nothing else but the figments of a diseased mind, pure inventions. 

Dear Doug Bremner,

in your response to my criticism of your blog post about Mark Becker you write:

"What gets me is that these posters feel like that since I am a psychiatrist they can throw whatever rocks they feel like. I mean, just because you are suffering from mental distress, or a mental disorder, or whatever you want to call it, doesn’t mean that you can act like a troll. This isn’t the first time this has happened, so I am calling them out. This is no excuse to act like a mean person."

I want to put straight, that"mental distress, or a mental disorder" more than you do. I take the full responsibility for every word I wrote in my previous post, as well as I take it for whatever I say or do in general. It will seem to me, that the fact that you're a shrink (= God?), and I am not, has you imagine you can "throw whatever rocks [you] feel like" at people, you've never met, hardly ever exchanged one word with. You did this in your post about Mark Becker, and you do it now again. "Psychiatry, a closed system, has the unique power to proclaim anyone who complains about it, or it's members, to be crazy for doing so." -Monophrenia

You also write: "Whether or not he was traumatized by his family, I have no idea, since I never interviewed them, but to assume that he was is my opinion fairly lame." 

Well well, but hypotheses about broken brains and defective genes, the blame the victim-approach, aren't lame, or are they?! How would you like it, Doug, if you were convicted of a crime only and solely on the basis of someone believing you've committed that crime, and without any chance to defend yourself?! Because, Doug, you see, "I don't believe you were traumatized, so, you weren't, period. Take your meds!"

What "trivializing" your trauma concerns: No, I don't trivialize your trauma. I read your blog posts about your mother, back then, and I saw the four and a half-year-old. I saw his pain, and it was heart-breaking. You and your PTSD had my entire compassion and sympathy. What I did in my previous post, was showing you, how you trivialize other people's trauma. How you don't see these people and their pain. How you, in other words, apply double standards.

May I ask, who or what it is that gives you the right to deny others what you claim for yourself?! And don't start about your "professional training". You have no science to back your opinions up with. On the contrary.

So, you think, I acted like "a mean person"? Take a thorough look in the mirror, Doug! You don't only act like "a mean person". You stab people in their back.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

PTSD-"expert" Doug Bremner can't see PTSD when it's staring him right into his face

"Later" - yeah well, one and a half months later I just want to add to my post about Alice Miller's death that I was appalled by most of the press reactions. One of the few obituaries to pay Alice Miller the respect she deserves is Sue Cowan Jenssen's. Read it here. (Via Beyond Meds.)

Talking about Alice Miller, I today did some more clearing up in my sidebar, as well as on Facebook and on Twitter. Life is simply too short to surround yourself with abusers, who, although they allegedly are "experts" on PTSD, can't recognize it when its staring them right into their face, who don't have anything else to offer victims of abuse than drugs, drugs, and even more drugs, to shut these victims up, so that they, the abusers, don't need to listen to them, but undisturbed may continue with their abuser business, for instance that of labelling people with "schizophrenia", who happily join in on the omnipresent demonization of "the schizophrenics", those lesser-than-humans, and on the just as omnipresent fear mongering that wants everybody to believe that going off the neuro-toxins that are called "medicine" immediately will turn you into a pickaxe killer.

And all this while what they demand and expect for themselves is pure compassion and understanding for the traumatized four and a half-year-old, who lost his mother, and therefor suffers from PTSD. - Are you sure Doug, that your problems were caused by trauma? That you're not a little brain diseased, genetically defective, a little lesser-than-human yourself?? I mean, compared to the abuse most of the people you fancy to label "schizophrenics" have experienced, the death of your mother is a mere trifle, and if what these people have gone through can't be recognized and acknowledged as deeply traumatizing, which is what I understand you believe, then how come you think, you can demand compassion and understanding for such an, in comparison, insignificant event as your mother's death to have caused you the least emotional suffering?!

Well, I'm done with this kind of unscientific, prejudiced and discriminating crap. Have a nice life, Doug! Oh, and don't read this! It might shake your belief system. (Although, can anything at all shake a sectarian belief system like the Inquisition's - er, I mean like biological psychiatry's? Hardly I guess.)

And right now, as I look at this post LinkWithin thinks that readers of this post "might also like" this one. Thank you, LinkWithin! :D