Hey you in the vodpod

Welcome to my world, sorry such a mess. After a thousand hits I’m still learning that one can do things like add tags, change titles, comment on the clips and interact with viewers, so while it’s something of a trainwreck in there, that’s my trainwreck in there. But no worries mate, chaos is a blessing because chaos leads to clarity, as given time will the disordered to the thematic, just you wait. Some day fifteen minutes spent in Writher will be equivalent to six months in the Renaissance.

I don’t know if the people visiting my vodpod are the same people visiting this blog and I don’t know how to figure that out yet. All I know is I get something like messages (?!) on my podpage everyday about certain missing videos, and just want to say I’m doing my best to replace them. I sense an all-purpose rant coming on, since it’s quite the pisser, I do not know why videos are disappeared and in a day or two reloaded, but I suspect the stink of money, the man, royalties and the sheer possessiveness in regulating terms of estate.

Every single video featuring Chet Baker has been taken off youtube, Nick’s Wanted Man disappears 3x a week, and now and then the single most aching concert footage of Billie Holiday’s career goes away and comes back, what are these people thinking? Let’s have even less exposure of under-recognized talent, because some people might be enjoying shit for free and that simply cannot stand! Just today I found my most-viewed clip has been taken from my pod, the best montage of scenes from my favorite movie is gone. I can’t bear the fact of its absence, out of 200 videos where is my most-viewed clip, my Wings of Desire, motherfucker? Who are these motherfuckers? Leave my stuff alone, you don’t even understand it. What kind of pernicious dickhead is afoot behind the curtain here, who does this, who taught them this? I mean, if I’m going to bury my head in youtube 4 hours a day I’d rather go in with the hope I’ll dig up artifacts of excellence to share in a beatitude of plenitude rather than you know, spend my alloted time on Earth policing miscreants who just might be getting away with enjoying an activity my small mind can’t comprehend. Really, it’s not about ripping you off. I don’t even think some people understand what the Internet is for anymore. It’s a place. A kind of place. A kind of pro-social place. Doesn’t that mean anything/something/everything? Why are we here? To make certain every single Chet Baker video disappears in case someone might somehow lose some money? That is worse than a mighty big if.

Let me explain the meaning of currency; these videos are goods people trade in order to connect online and build social networks. We can’t do it without the thing you’re taking away from us. You are robbing me. And these people who trade in cultural currency are known as weirdos collectors. We are your buyers. For every free video seen how many entire collections are purchased? Think, man! Who wants to see a Chet Baker video if not for the kind of patron who collects the kind of music Chet Baker made. But this is too exacting/abstract for shortsighted moneygrabbers to get their arms around, that people live in these worlds and this is what we spend our money on. Plus, there are no guarantees, you can’t predict and control the buying behavior of even the most avid watcher of an obscure jazz video, so you speculate, in recognition of an alternative culture beyond the imagination of the profit/loss spreadsheet. Because it’s fucking elementary, depriving us is shooting yourselves in the foot, betraying your own self interest, not to mention your own economic base, but that’s cool because you despise us for the very intensity with which we respond to your product, and the rather childlike bonding we do over it.

And I don’t know how to make or even upload videos so can’t begin to imagine the grief a creator must feel to see their labor of love wiped out in an instant, and that is such total bullshit, since another delinquent is only going to upload the same damn footage in a montage tomorrow just to see it wiped out in a day or two again. Which makes their removal an exercise in nothing but mean-spirited pointlessness but as Willie put it, if you got the money I got the time to defy this ridiculous set-up day in and day out. It’s all so 1970s punk rock I could hurl, maybe that’s the best can be said about this situation.

So now we wait. Wait for some bloke to upload an English scene from my favorite film, inspired by the poems of Rilke, where angels seemed to dwell. A beautiful drifty sad trapeze artist who lives in a trailer and dances by herself to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Hapless but knowing angels who can only observe, powerless to intervene. Wiki has a fairly unpretentious page on background. But it’s in words and we’re supposed to be passed all that. Paltry language, nothing but a muddy, hulking impoverished substitute for streamline video. There, I said it. The fact is, words have always wanted to be video, I think you must agree. If in doubt, get a load of this old school film professor deploying the sad convention of words on screen to describe my favorite WoD scene, “dying motorcyclist,” where the angel Damiel takes the I/Thou dialogic to the next level by pulling up the deepest thoughts of a man dying in the gutter. Ya with me reader, notice we are switching gears? You would if this was a sequence of still images representing scenes in motion! OK, serious hat now; the dying man’s inner monologue begins as you might expect, with fragmented ranting at dumbstruck passers-by:

Don’t look at me so stupidly. Haven’t you seen anyone die before? Shit, is it this easy? I’m lying here in a puddle, stinking like an oil tanker. I can’t really end up here like a wilting flower! Everything so clear! Why are they standing there? Gawking at me like that? The oil smudge…

As he approaches the dying man, Damiel kneels behind him, places his hands on either side of the dying man’s head, and leans his own head down, listening intently for or tuning into the thoughts trying to form themselves in a deeper layer of the dying man’s mind:

(Dying Man’s inner voice): Karin, I should have told her yesterday… This thing got out of control. …I’m so sorry. Karin! Now I’m lying here. I can’t simply… I have to… Karin, I still have so much to do! Karin, Baby, things look bad for me.

It is at this point that Damiel begins speaking for the dying man, helping him to focus his thoughts on the things that had meant the most to him during his lifetime. Damiel, speaking for the dying man begins-

As I emerged from the valley out of the fog into the sunshine…the fire at the edge of the prairie…the potatoes in the ashes…the boat-house far off at the lake…

Now the dying man joins in speaking the invocation, so that both his and Damiel’s voices are heard simultaneously. DAMIEL and the DYING MAN:

The Southern Cross, the Far East, the Great North, the Wild West, the Great Bear Lake!

At the very end of this segment we begin to hear the strains of cello music. In the final moments a young man is seen hurrying along the bridge toward the scene of the accident. … Damiel looks up and cedes his place to the young man, who places his hands on the dying man’s shoulders. Damiel caresses the young man’s head (with an immaterial hand), as he rises to turn back toward the bridge… and walks back across it. We continue to hear the inner thoughts of the dying man, now spoken in a strong voice, which replaces the enfeebled one heard in the opening shot.

Tristan da Cunha. The Mississippi Delta. Stromboli. The old houses of Charlottenburg. Albert Camus. The morning light. The child’s eyes. The swim in the waterfall. The spots of the first drops of rain. The sun. The bread and wine. Hopping. Easter. The veins of leaves. The blowing grass. The color of stones. The pebbles on the stream’s bed. The white tablecloth outdoors. The dream of the house in the house. The dear one asleep in the next room. The peaceful Sundays. The horizon. The light from the room in the garden. The night flight. Riding a bicycle with no hands. The beautiful stranger. My father. My mother. My wife. My child.

For the love of all that’s holy will someone upload this clip? Thank you, that is all.

If it’s any consolation I don’t begin to understand them

I understood growing up that trusted people were not inadvertently driving me crazy but were instead devoted to the systematic destruction of my sanity. It wasn’t about their behaviors, though I’d make it a point to avoid a beating by wandering the neighborhood till the lights went out, go home and step over mom on the way to the kitchen, eat a tub of Cool Whip, fall asleep on the couch and wake up with a caregiver’s dick in my mouth. Go down to the basement and burn my cum-stained nightie in the laundrytub, thinking, then head off to school in rumpled overalls and mother’s torn nylons, sleep at my desk while intuitive classmates point and ridicule, gearing up for the beatdown I was hoping to dodge by the bullies on the playground. Welp, I told myself, sucks all right, but no one is going to touch my mind.

This is what they wanted, evident, by age eight, the people perpetrating on me attack my body and it hurts but I can ignore that since what they’re really after is my mind, my soul, my freedom, pleasure, my sense of ease and security, my pride, my delight. I’ll tell you how I knew this: My actions had no impact on them. Their treatment of me was inner directed, random, their demands of me non-specific or inconsistent, they didn’t want me to do anything better, didn’t want me to be good, to improve, to behave, and believe me I tried. It wasn’t about that. I’m still learning, it wasn’t about me. Their only goal was the complete breaking down of personality. They needed me to think and feel and become something else, something ugly, corrosive and corrupt, a mirror. They wanted to watch this version of me take form, they wanted to be the ones who caused the transformation and wanted to be known by me as the ones who caused it.

Trauma is not just talk about what the abuser did; welts and bruises fade. Psychic trauma is about who did it, and why they did it, and since going there is inconceivable to most people we talk about CSA, scars and whatnot and PTSD in order to avoid the unpleasant. PS: This too is traumatizing.

I understand dangerous, sadistic twisted fucks tune into my radar, even though I know all this — my caregivers wished to destroy my mind — or maybe it’s because I know all this, you avoid what I invite. There’s always a psychopath beckoning. Something is always tugging, it’s true for you and true for me, all of nature, organisms, living things incline toward particular experience, we do. There’s a hole in my heart where the wreckers crawl in, do I get what I deserve? It’s very screwed up and very understandable in light of the BPD, Borderline Personality Disorder. Which has been established, yes, it has.

I am truly fucking sorry.

Ignorant, judgmental scolds who don’t understand why anyone would want to self-destruct should begin asking why not self-destruct. Then try to spend a single day getting over your always redundant relief in the familiar.

A word with you

There’s nothing quite like watching an addled crusade to get the juices flowing again. I cannot get through the Shakesville commenting guide and maintain a straight face. At issue is whether blogs that traffic in pain and abuse be appropriately denoted “safe spaces” with trigger warnings and compulsive moderation to make sure indelicate oafs who fail to approach the walking wounded with proper temerity don’t get away with it for a single fucking second.

Maybe it seemed a good idea at the time but safe spaces end up like eXtreme mindgropes, with serious hands-on evaluation and excessive analysis of thread commenters. If there’s a point to it, they’ve failed to get it across, since plenty of us see the only gratification in putting funny people down, as if to engender the same joylessness, shame and humiliation at large that is borne in solitude by abuse survivors, who from their pain have devolved into rigid scolds haranguing their guests to “check your privilege, fauxprogressive, you’re harming us and you don’t care.”

Harm is serious, and if it’s not happening should be denied. Of course “their blog, their rules” and all that, but spread that foolishness around and it takes on the air of provocation, which makes for a beautiful day in the neighborhood, arguing about the same old same old. Oh you may call it a non sequitur, until I use it to wash out your disrespecting mouth, never thought of that now didja? Abuse; it’s a terrain. Walk a mile in these moccasins and become extra spaycial.

Simply put, this fascinating interblog PC war will never end, because some of us progressives stand for political correctness and some of us progressives won’t stand for it a whit. That’s called individuation — the development of the individual from the general. Very good for mental health, not so good for the groupthink.

Oh sure, oppressive PC nannies have the lead right now, but I’m so old I remember when they were usurpers. Those were the days my friend. I thought they’d never end. Now it seems the best you can do is try to be clear about your stances, don’t misrepresent them and inadvertently create drama and betrayal when the unbelievably awful truth about your principles will out. You know what I mean, right?

Number one, I don’t hold with all these beliefs that being offended truly matters, and hope to never put guaranteed diminishing returns into anticipating and creating strategies to ward off Internet assholery, which is a feature, not a bug. It’s tempting, I understand the impulse but there’s no strategy for asshole prevention, just a tendency to get pissed off ten times a day, and no need to turn that into something else if you don’t despise your inner life. Though there will always be someone who says my god you are an angry person, and be quite persuasive about how and why you need to change that, but fuck them people, and never stop, every single day, like so.

All this, after a four month absence, trigger warnings, seriously?

I see I’m going to have to write in depth about this problem, maybe twice as much as I originally intended. They’re so ubiquitous it’s very easy to become inured to them, the climate they create. But I know writers who use trigger warnings can just as easily have the opposite effect and put off the very people they aim to chaperone. The sheer gall of it. What makes you qualified to inform me I can’t handle the subject matter?

Good point if I say so myself. What else?

It smells like a set up. Are you warning me or priming me?


It’s a directive? Trigger warning as a sneaky way to tell me how I should respond to your post.

And if I ignore the hint?

This is getting dark. It seems so very well-meaning. You should know about this trigger, dear, it’s attached to my gun. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now, now. Trigger warnings are given to convey a self-protective, cautionary approach best taken to the post at issue: Brace yourself. What you’re about to read could better be very upsetting, frightening, disruptive, distressing, devastating, leave you feeling crippled, weak, needy and worthless, but hey, I get that, and I’m in your corner!

Someone is being manipulative. And if we want to get psychological about it we’d say they were playing *hot potato* with their neurosis. Toss it over, now you have it and I don’t, hooray for endless mindfucking.

Ignore all that, respond to the trigger warning as expected, no problem. Surprise us, and it’s off to the re-education camp for you. Some progressives think this is perfectly acceptable social policy and it can’t be overstated that some of us do not.

Those who do favor restricting speech will say it’s not about preference, aesthetics or mere offense, but preventable harm. Safe spaces are ruled with an iron fist, they say, to avoid the infliction of psychological damage, which, if true, gives them the moral high ground.

HTML Mencken objects to safe spaces on those very grounds, and refers to them as hellholes –

“Since the hellholes’ policies are about moral judgment, they are subject to moral judgment.”

He shreds through the whole charade, post after post. But he would, coming from the anti-safe space blog that so happens to be the safest afoot and number one scourge of high-minded liberal PC adherents.

Coincidence? Sadly, no.

Look, run a blog however you want. But to call groupthink therapeutic and say others don’t get it  because they haven’t been traumatized is just asking for the smackdown.

That makes two of us. It’s not to champion free speech, or more level-headed comment moderation. What I am is territorial. I explained all this yesterday at a comedy blog. In no uncertain terms, I most certainly did, and repeat myself, with your forbearance:

I’ll say my piece now that this thread’s dead. I’ll never relinquish my own boundless contempt for Shakesville and Alas A Blog because I see them trivializing a horrifying psychiatric disorder that is already considered a joke among too many mental health providers. I am also one of “them” but they don’t speak for me. I find their safe spaces emotionally damaging, counterproductive toward recovery and easing re-traumatization and getting over it and shit.

I used to get triggered to where you couldn’t take me anywhere, diving under tables in restaurants and staying frozen under desks til the office cleared out, talking in a little baby voice or becoming violent and fighting with store clerks or some innocent who bumped me in passing. That’s PTSD. You lose the in between space that separates stimulus and response. Normally it’s stimulus>>thought>>response but when PTSD exists there’s nothing between the two, and there really needs to be; the ability to recognize and accurately perceive a stimulus is basic and that’s what PTSD ruins. When the stimulus/response is instantaneous, it’s impaired. People living with unresolved major trauma put current experience into the past and act as if a horrible thing is happening now and they don’t realize they’re doing this. They don’t know where they are. To be unable to tell when sounds/behaviors/facial expressions/and yes, words are a threat or benign is hell to live with, it needs to be repaired and there are ways of doing that.

Everyone I know who has sincerely worked on healing from trauma would laugh at the very fucking idea of a “safe space”, because number one we are beyond safe spaces, and second, trying to create a womblike social milieu promotes the continuing psychosis we’re trying to get over.

Recovery is about learning to discern the difference between a benign and threatening stimuli, and how to respond to each accordingly. This is broken in PTSD where everything is coming at you and all of it potentially threatening. Reactions to sounds, words, facial expressions, ringing phones and knocks on the door are often unpredictable, bizarre, disproportionate, hysterical, confusing, scary to experience and scary to witness, and come out of nowhere with a life of their own. The triggers are real, and the material being activated is meaningful, but it’s all happening inside, and that’s where the responsibility lies. Why is that so hard to grasp? I read those blogs and their trigger warnings and PTSD admonishments to everyone as if their speech is a factor in keeping the self-identified PTSD sufferer stable. Maybe the sufferer should be disturbed; PTSD is a serious mental illness.

Good therapy would have you re-engaging with life in all its noisome messiness and ambiguity, none of which carries a trigger warning. Being upset and staying with it. Building tolerance, getting stronger. But you have to pass through so much catastrophe without externalizing it, and that’s hard. Easier to say it’s you, Mencken, you’ve put me back in that horrible place I need to forget and you had better not ever do that again. But now I’ve abandoned me and made you the thing that needs attention. This is why I think what they do is so anti-therapeutic. Plus it’s lazy, no need for commitment to learning how to handle it, and the craziness is very difficult to overcome. The first step has to be in identifying who it belongs to, and I’ve yet to see an inkling of self-responsibility at those safe space blogs. It infuriates me that they’re so silly and superficial about what PTSD takes from people, and how they will ameliorate the damage with clever, wordy, linear debates about insensitive speech. I don’t see it. PTSD is a disorder, it creates disordered personalities, jumbled discourse, irrational paragraphs, regular meltdowns, if you have PTSD issues and you post regularly at a blog it’s going to show. They insult people who really do struggle with chronic re-traumatization by presenting themselves as what that looks like. And by arguing that recovery is about suppressing particular stimuli rather than confronting what it is that particular stimuli activates within. The triggers start something inside. We can ignore the words that started the process. It’s my mind at issue, not what goes on in yours. That is, if we’re talking about PTSD, which is totalizing. I don’t know what to make of it, certain female-oriented bloggers exploit a faddish disorder to legitimize garden variety irritants and use it to prop up their absolute moralism? Shocking.

Alison Des Forges: One who told the story


The death of Alison Des Forges on flight 3407 last week is a terrible loss to all of us, the whole wide world. She was 66 and working til the day she died. It feels close to me since I only discovered her last year, but I read her daily for months and just knowing she is in the world has made it a little better since then. Now she’s dead and I need to say something but don’t have the words to do it justice. This is a blog and links are sufficient so I’ll go that route, but just have to say god bless her work and goddamn the world that created a need for it.

Huffington/Common Dreams: A Heroine for Human Rights.

Human Rights Watch: “…the epitome of the human rights activist”

Democracy Now! Interview with HRW Executive Director and video clips.

Slate: What Are They So Scared of? I’m Just a Little Old Lady.”

She was banned from her beloved Rwanda last year for insisting the Kagame government account for war crimes, scorned the forgiveness & reconciliation policy as empty therapeutics,  was the first to call the massacres a genocide and wrote the definitive text, testified 11 times before the International Criminal Tribunal, and when the MacArthur Foundation recognized her with a “genius grant” she tried to give the money back. I’m struck that each one of these sentences could flesh out a book, but she also bargained for her own life with drunken militias at roadblocks, buried scores of nameless dead while saving countless others, and saw the genocide looming well before anyone else and pleaded with Washington to take action. About that she gives an unforgettable account of a visit at the State Department with Pru Bushnell, who would herself become utterly thwarted by the Clinton administration:

It was the very first meeting — perhaps it was the meeting after that. But I do remember a meeting where we were all sitting together there, four or five of us. She had a staff person with her. It happened that we were all women, and perhaps because we were all women, we weren’t afraid to cry. So we talked about the situation. I remember we then all cried, all of us. Then Pru took out her box of Kleenex and passed it around. We all blew our noses and she said, “OK, now what are we going to do next?” (via)

We all know how that turned out. But it took Alison Des Forges to make what’s rightly considered Biblical sense of it.  Human Rights Watch has an active tribute page with hundreds of very moving comments in honor of her legacy, though my own favorite comes from the New Yorker: Apparently, anything Des Forges did that was connected with Rwanda, she did with all her might. And she managed to do it without the self-righteous territoriality that is the occupational vice of human-rights experts. Her attachment to the country and its people seemed neither saintly nor professional, but entirely human.</em>

Even the hipsters are going soft

All of us — smokers, unbelievers and Muslims, coming together in the winter of our hardship  to celebrate the awesome sight of 2 million people sniffling and burbling in subfreezing temperatures, even our magazine cover partied! The self-conscious hipsters are right — too much joy will be used as proof we’ve turned Hussein X  Superfly into a personal savior, but he covered that yesterday and it bears repeating: This isn’t about him, it’s about us, we the people.

Commie lyrics included!

I was a little loopy but half-heard a woman on the mall explain what good government is and is not: it’s not an implacable force impinging on people or faceless source of indiscriminate largesse, but a partnership between the governing and the governed; both have a duty to listen to and be influenced by the other. I haven’t seen that yet, have lived through eight presidents and have never seen anything come close til now and don’t get me started on Clinton, if anything he was doubly revolting for being a Democrat, which made this my favorite jaw-dropping moment of  inaugural zen:


As his first official action after being sworn in, President Barack Obama signed three documents Tuesday, including a proclamation declaring a day of national renewal and reconciliation.

“I’m a lefty. Get used to it,” Obama quipped as he signed his name.

Now, how deadpan self-revelation becomes wingnut baiting is quite the puzzler, but I anticipate people having BIG PROBLEMS with his offhand, unapologetic persona. Given shitloads of experience with such problems myself I am rather looking forward to these presidential conundrums.

new day rising

superbushI spent Monday watching the 2003 documentary Control Room, then read a mess of online farewells to George Bush. This one comes closest to what’s inside my own heart: May the Road Rise to Meet You in the Face, You Treasonous Son of a Bitch.

Contrary to the arguments made by your defenders, I didn’t root for you to fail. I never did. I greeted your installment by the Supreme Court with exhaustion and resignation, and your first few months in office with general skepticism, but I never thought, “Boy, I hope he just falls on his face and kills a lot of people and wrecks our economy and blows holes in the sand for five years.” I thought, “Maybe it’ll be okay. Maybe it won’t be so bad.”

And when 9/11 happened I said to myself and those around me, Democrats all, “Well, let’s see what he does now.” My life has not been devoid of stories about unlikely heroes arising from feckless halfwit princelings, so I was prepared for that to happen. Hopeful, even. Who doesn’t want everything to be okay? Who doesn’t recognize that you being a terrible failure would hurt us far more than it would hurt you?

I wish you had done the job. I wish you had found and tried and executed Osama bin Laden, and rebuilt Afghanistan the way we should have decades ago. I wish you had given us real security, not this dance of removing our shoes and putting lotion in a baggie. I wish you had told us to conserve and sacrifice, not spend and eat. I wish you had listened to those in the armed forces and those in Congress and those on the street when they said, don’t invade Iraq. I wish you had listened to Iraqis, afterwards, when they said, help us stop the looting and violence.

I wish you had listened to the Gulf Coast’s people when they called out for help. I wish you had listened to the sick and their doctors when they asked you to grant research to cure their disesases. I wish you had listened to women when we said, we value our autonomy.

I wish you had listened to us all when we said we are more than this, we are better than this, ask us and there’s nothing we won’t give you. I wish you had had faith in us equal to that which we placed in you. And I wish you had been worthy of what we wanted from you, and from ourselves.

I wish you had done and been all of this, but you didn’t and you weren’t, and so what we’re left with are the memories of the dead, the horrors of the living, with boarded-up houses and empty streets, a place so broken we barely recognize it anymore. It’s hard to imagine punishment fitting for that. It’s hard, having wished all this for you, to wish anything more, but I do:

May you live a life of quiet contemplation of every single one of your failures. May you live a life hemmed in by those you hurt, in a cell physical or otherwise, papered with the faces of your dead. May you be  sheltered from the rain of rotten tomatoes and sour heads of cabbage by a small, broken umbrella. May you be gnawed upon by the hunger you fostered in the poor, chilled by the cold from which you refused to shield the homeless, beset by the illnesses you refused to help cure, subjected to the indignities you inflicted upon others.

May your life be long, and healthy, and full of everything you gave to America and the world. May you come to know exactly who you are. May you come to recognize the face in the mirror each morning.

May it give to you a fraction of the nightmares you deserve.

No love at all,


More at the link and worth twice the time to read it once.

Eight years of international decline and what’s been lost may never be recovered. 

On my bookshelf, a small sample of elucidating prose that need never have been written:

The Dark Side

The Forever War

The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

In the Shadow of No Towers

Conservatives Without Conscience

The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule

The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics and Religion

Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President


Two Images that sum up this administration:



And while he was doing this:


Our elected president flew a team of doctors into New Orleans and took complete control of the mission —  exhausted, pissed, and declining media coverage for fear it would be “politicized.”


I won’t belabor what’s shaping up as the worst legacy ever, a slimeball trail future administrations will be cleaning up for life, no, enough buzz-killing. In the space of one day the tears this country flows will be of far sweeter quality, and for once I cannot wait for the speechifying to begin. Meanwhile read this smackdown of the uncomprehending winger outcry concerning our inaugural poet, Countdown to PORN and go forward laughing, citizen.

Psychiatric survivors, labels and me

If any organism fails to fulfill its potentialities, it becomes sick. William James


The deleterious effect of evil, pernicious, stigmatizing labels is at the core of psychiatric survivor discourse™, so of course it makes me wonder why I don’t care about mine so much, like — what am I missing here, am I insufficiently outraged about a civil rights injustice?!
Borderline, Bi-polar, Schizophrenia, these official stamps of psychiatry will lead to life of ruin, they say, while saying not so much about the label that actually got them committed. Puzzling, but later for all that. The thread on BPD at the only blog that matters has me head in a spin.

I identify with borderlines, my life’s been filled with them, I have it in me, it’s a hellish disorder. I’ve only seen doctors in offices. In the room, every diagnosis came at a snail’s pace by reluctant treaters who always provided the caveat that what they do are “diagnostic IMPRESSIONS” — their best opinion, that others might not agree with, including me. Fair enough. Over many years 3 different diagnosticians gave me a Cluster B (Dramatic) Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, all of them working independently without reading each others notes, and all of them placing an AXIS I diagnoses as the primary concern, whether major depression, bi-polar, PTSD, hysteria (conversion disorder) or some kind of schizophrenia. The docs I saw regularly who presumably knew me best were adamant that I do not have BPD, and I wanted that diagnosis, to feel closer to the people I love, and the musicians I relate to, all the luminous, sullen and delicate cutters.

I just last week sat down for the first time to read the opinion of the psychiatrist who evaluated me for the Social Security Administration. It’s been sitting here seven years and I’m aware that I have feelings about it before even reading it, the language is very sobering. I saw this SSA psychiatrist for 90 minutes and turns out he settled on “a long-standing and well-documented history of borderline personality disorder” with the following attached:

Dr. Aitcheson’s testimony is well-supported by the objective medical evidence, which establishes a deeply ingrained and maladaptive pattern of behavior associated with oddities of thought, perception, speech and behavior, … extreme difficulty getting along with others…panic attacks, psychotic features, vegetative states, hypersomnia… emotional lability as well as intense and unstable interpersonal relationships and impulsive and damaging behavior. This symptomatology has resulted in marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning, marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, pace, and repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.

I’m supposed to be offended by that? It’s the truth. I guess I could be offended, but appears I have a rather full plate to be upset by something so removed. I mean, it seems removed; I have my life and I have these labels. Now I finally have one that makes me chestpuff, I’m in with the out crowd.

I don’t care. That’s the problem, I am perceived as falling short in the victim identity. But listen, schizoaffective disorder was real tough on me, due to all the research it requires, but okay fuckit, overall I have no personal issues with labeling, I’m not outraged by the iffy nosology in psychiatry because the iffiness has been established for me by psychiatrists throughout my treatment course. Now I’m getting shit at Furious Seasons because what happened to me just don’t sound right. It’s a competition, this shit right here.

I feel protective and territorial about my newfound BPD label and don’t like how things are going over there. I am nobody’s victim and am sorry to say have always felt supported by my treaters, but do hang on to anger for the lobotomy and expect I always will. My gramma was the only one in that house who loved me, I saw what it did to her. Saw what psychiatrists did to my whole family, who, hang on a sec, unlike me were all involuntary patients. I guess today they’d be psychiatric survivors, since they were forced into asylums and treated against their will.

The difference between voluntary and involuntary patients is something. Seriously, cartoon king Szasz got one thing right.

Still, I am against the BPD dx for all the right reasons. People are negatively effected by that specific label in all kinds of specific ways and they don’t like it, and that should be reason enough to say it’s got to go. Period. But none of these DSM labels, invoked like mantras are what I look for when psychiatric survivors say they are sharing their feelings about what society thinks about them. The label they avoid is the one I’m most interested in hearing about  and what they do with it.

Yeah. What’s it like to be considered dangerous by the powers that be, and is it too late for me to get some of that juju?

The sole justification for involuntary commitment. You must be found to be a danger to self and or others. You might think that would make some impact on a person, an activist, a truthteller, but damned if I’m onto that discourse, in fact I’m seeing more like a taboo around meaningful discussion in the psychiatric survivors, but hey I’m borderline now, I get to stir shit up.

I realized something the other day, how the same thing happens when visiting a General Practitioner for the first time. The Physicians Assistant does the standard intake on medical history; surgeries, cancers, allergies, heart disease, mental health issues? “Yes,” I reply breezily, I’ve been treated for psychiatric conditions. “Any hospitalizations?” Why do they always look up and ask that? They do it every time, ask and look up, make eye contact and hold it.

Any hospitalizations for mental illness?

They are trying to gauge how much they need to be on guard in my presence. I guess we’re all doing that to some extent, but this makes it rather stark. I’ll remember next time to say “Nope, you’re safe!”

As am I, so far at least. I imagine that things could be different for me.

The giving, offering, and forcing of selves

meansanta2Not another post about nuance! Yes and it all started when I heard benevolent superstar Jon Swift is offering exposure to his blogroll writers with another year-end round up of Best Posts Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves. Last year was a great success, providing hours of enjoyable reading and oodles of new visitors to the entrants’ blogs. This is not a contest, but an invitation for writers of all kinds who want a little more attention. I’m posting about it in the enduring hope of seeing psychiatric bloggers do more crossing-over into the wider progressive blogosphere. Of course you have to be on his blogroll, but since his blogroll is famous for being open to anyone I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t be on it.

I had little trouble choosing my own favorite post from this year’s slim pickens because I’m still pissed about that blogger from last year’s round-up who decided the most important post she wrote in 2007 was an injunction to readers to take their psychiatric meds. I don’t easily let go that sort of bullshit and it’s not because I’m against people taking psychotropic drugs. It was the compulsion to thrust her garbage onto the faceless reader as if the reader was any of her damn business, it’s that sort of foolishness gets stuck in my craw.

It looks like we’ve come full circle in one year’s time. These days the big drag in the psychosphere is seen in the browbeating of bloggers who actually do take their medication, to the consternation of antipsychiatry bullies who know for a fact that using meds does nothing but support corrupt big phRma. The DSM’s a bastard, mental illness a social construct, everybody hurts, but if you need a crutch there’s always B-Vitamins and Omega 3 fatty acid, looser! You may think this a caricature and sadly, so do I. But it’s for our own good, the twisted stigmatizing by double-talking activists who seem to think unvarnished contempt of their own (imagined) constituency is lost on anyone who believes other people’s choices are deserving of respect.

What are we to make of it? Unsolicited warnings about disabling side effects, but ZOMFG stopping drugs cold turkey without “tapering” will make you a school shooter, calling out fellow bloggers in a keyboard-pounding frenzy to justify their failure to denounce the modern tools of psychiatry, and without a single self-deprecating nod to their own fixation over this grave and pressing life and death matter.

One popular no-med blogger did just that to your shy and retiring flawedplan this year and thankfully I was able to maintain sufficient wit to persuade her to swiftly remove the nonsensical post but these displays of nerve can leave a chilling effect. And they’re accumulating, some phase, the pendulum swinging, whatever the reason, antipsychiatry abounds. Yes I know, google antipsychiatry and you’ll end up here, isn’t that ironic. Something’s gotta give.

Just this October while cleaning out my medicine cabinet I found a two year old bottle of un-opened Effexor and decided I’d take one a day to see what it did to my mind. First time I try psych drugs in over three years but can’t bring myself to share this experiment on my own damn blog because who wants to fight with competitive antipsychiatry ass berets? That’s fucked up . And more fool me, being so wilting lily sensitive but
so let the record show, Effexor kicked ass in the third week, got me talking to people, telling jokes, on the phone and off my computer, playing with kids, looking up at the sky above, cornbread moon and twinkly stars, take that, assholes! all very banal and run-of-the-mill, a mood elevator doing what it was designed to do, someone better call Ripley. But I dreaded the outcry — Placebo effect!— Uh huh, and it only took 32 trials with prior “placebos” til Effexor hit the sweet spot, what a mystery these dadgum sugar pills, 31 fakes til the real placebo kicks in.

Now, wait just a dadblasted minute. Did I not just say I’ve been off psych meds for three full years and now I’m going on about undergoing 32 drug trials? Which is it, what gives? I get these triumphant gotcha emails and don’t know what to make of them that seem to be saying “Come Clean!”

Because nothing says you’re filling a necessary void like an excruciatingly detailed exposition of your journey with psychotropic medications, therefore a blogger is beholden to describe her course in its entirety, stops and starts, gains and losses, why I changed my mind, then changed my mind again, til I came upon the final wisdom, whether from compliance to non-compliance or non-compliance to compliance and the road back to where I was before the meds destroyed my fill-in-the-blank, the fact of the matter is every veil that falls from my eyes will be validated by matching veils falling from your own. Or else.

Else what?

You can face the pathetic need to have complete strangers put their stamp on your own life choices or you can assume the identity of a pharmaceutical fetishist, choose to troll blogs, shut down discussion, expect everyone to be similarly obsessed with pharmaceuticals in a vain attempt to normalize batshit insanity by projecting your issues into the environment, which no one in the history of the world has ever tried before.

They’re out there. Trolls are meant to be smacked down, though I wouldn’t call them concern trolls, because they’re incapable of misrepresenting the concern part of the concern troll protocol. It seems more like a minority of angry antipsychiatry usurpers have united in an effort to seize the mental health discourse, make discussion ugly for any mental health blogger inclined to post about a casual relationship with said drugs and prescriber, who gives the topic due proportion, as an aside, one detail in a multi-faceted narrative. Not to mention any blogger who feels conflicted about using pharmaceuticals, you will watch your mouth or rue the day you turned off comment moderation.

Antidepressants aren’t that interesting, they are just the device in a battle of wills. It’s about control, over-powering the blight of personal sovereignty by those who feel personal sovereignty was stolen from them, and by the looks of things it was. But there has to be a way of reclaiming what’s yours without destroying the self-esteem of psychiatry’s willing guinea pigs as if their peace of mind is what’s wrong with this picture.

Perhaps I’ve gone far afield of the original subject, but it seemed some preamble was in order. I’ve come to realize that anticipating a jump to conclusions has become necessary in blogging and guess there’s nothing to be done for that but learn to address it in fewer words. I’ll aim high, meanwhile my favorite 2008 post at Writhe Safely remains this one, but I won’t submit that since it’s pure link love, I didn’t write anything. My own best typing in 2008 combines social criticism with personal confession (and if you think I exaggerate the violence of online antipsychiatry read that thread) but will submit this instead with a thought for public service. If you come away from that convinced of what I stand for you are privy to a truth that is not even in my own possession. Why would you want that responsibility? Just think about the post, not a bunch of interesting ideas about the person who wrote it.

Right now I am thinking of various mental health bloggers who deserve a wider audience. Here’s hoping half my blogroll makes an appearance in Jon Swift’s self-selected personal bests for Election Year 2008! I’ll be clicking along with my Christmas toddy, in solidarity, basking in the plenitude of complimentary hits.