Found a couple interesting comments in the usual random and divergent blogreading today. A post by Sly Civilian was the jumping off point, this is from the current interblog dustup about racism as mental illness, which it is not; racism, unlike mental illness is volitional. I leave the finer points of the debate in the hands of the theorists, and move to Sly’s take on social control of the mentally ill, and just who the hell is suffering here–
A great deal of my energy and writing go into working towards a model of mental illness that, say…doesn’t help people treat us like crap. I’m twitchy about it, no doubt.
But there’s something there, and it has to do with a very gut level revulsion against the incredibly heinous things people are willing to do to “cure” folks that they have come to understand as mentally ill.
On the other hand, I think it’s a bad way of conceptualizing something you want to do something about. From somebody who experiences mental illness…it just doesn’t strike me as a productive parallel. The choices i make have little to do with if I’m going to experience depression or not. I can’t interrupt my panic attacks the way one might be able to interrupt an expression of white privilege. Moreover, a medicalized model of “bad thing as mental illness” often gets used to imply that there’s simply nothing to be done…that person, concept, whatever are just beyond the pale. Thus enter my objection to the casting of bush loving, anti-whatever, extremists as “crazy.”
No! They have a choice about what they do. What they’re doing is wrong and hurtful to others. And they should change their behavior. Folks with mental illness had jack shit to do with how they developed it, make the choices they are entitled to in terms of coping and living their lives as they see fit.
Moving right along to an excerpt from the next random hit by a blogger living with mental illness:
To look at me, you’d never guess I’m bipolar and have AADD. There’s no sign around my neck, my skin isn’t green, or puce (whatever that is), and I’m hardly violent at all. But if you worked with me, for example, you’d soon notice that I’m “different,” a little “odd,” “outrageous,” or “bizarre,”
For one thing, I find it difficult to interact with other people and on a bad day, might show hostility toward them or believe they “have it in for me.” I’m extremely negative, so people don’t enjoy being around me. I can’t follow instructions or directions if there are more than two – I have to write them down. Much of what people say seems trivial, ridiculous or challenging, to me. I can’t keep focus: if I’m working and the phone rings, it breaks my concentration and it’s tough getting it back – it may be half an hour before I do. Everything distracts me: footsteps out in the hall, a light turned off, a distant radio playing. I will appear to be excessively moody, giddy before lunch and all but catatonic after. You may think, or even say, “She must be crazy.”
And this is what brings me full circle. I believe that most ill-treatment, stigma, and fear of persons will mental illness revolves around observers imagining that they are the victim. That being forced to exist in the same world as somebody who thinks, feels, and perceives differently than they do is terrible. And then the cure gets a whole lot worse than the disease.
Nobody has a moral obligation to “cure” themselves on account of the social compact. I believe that people have the right to the most autonomous existence that is possible for them, regardless of if they are neuro-typical or not. Mental illness isn’t about pain for other people.