Wait, work with me here. From A Fragile Revolution, a book about our little niche liberation movement:
Lord and Hutchison (1993) found that the process of empowerment usually begins with individuals getting angry or, more properly stated, becoming aware of their anger. In the context of their new awareness, they also have to have the opportunity to try out new behaviours and, paradoxically, the freedom to fail. Further, it is critical that they are supported by the external material resources that constitute the most basic of human needs, secure housing and an income, so that they can have at least some measure of control over their public, as well as private, selves. Finally, Lord & Hutchison insist that no one can become empowered on their own. They must have the company of their peers, who like themselves are struggling, improving, regressing and triumphing. They also need access to welcoming community environments such as self-help groups, social action organizations, churches, schools, employment, friends and family.
Watts and Abdul-Adil…suggest that there can be an intimate connection between personal empowerment and politicization—the process of acquiring political awareness leading to social action. They postulate five stages:
Acritical (“individuals accept the legitimizing myths of personal blame and natural causes”);
Adaptive (“people try to adapt and benefit from whatever the system can offer”);
Pre-critical (“acknowledgement of power differentials but the social structure is perceived as immutable”);
Critical (”realization of the sources of oppression, accompanied by the impulse to work towards social change”);
And, finally, Liberation (“involvement in political action to eradicate personal and social injustice”) (p. 139).
We can interact on this, if you’ve a mind to share. Pick a stage — past, present or speculative and riff on it.
I go back and forth with it, but I know for sure am done with the first two. Following the legislature has been my awakening. I have no major personal beef with my own mental health treatment, and was oblivious to pressing problems in modern practice until October 2004, at the very first committee hearing I covered, Health and Human Services. They were looking at state foster children and psychotropic polypharmacy, the meeting lasted all day with what seemed like a hundred witnesses. From that day forward psychiatrizing foster kids became a Texas scandal, now resulting in statutory change, so I can say for a fact the disastrous circumstances I heard about in 2004 are moving forward toward inklings of improvement, thanks to activism and a responsive legislature.
I have real square tendencies. I want nothing more than to stay at this stage of development, let the patriarchs handle it, eventual self-correction is bound to happen when we pursue orderly reform within the institutions of power. But I can’t hang onto that, and believe I moved to the fourth, Critical stage last Fall during a hearing on Child Protective Services, again to an overflow room made up of parents, MHPs and social workers, everyone at odds with the system and each other.
On that day I learned Child Protection has capitulated to the medical model, and is little more than a handmaiden to Big Pharma. CPS now removes from intact and functional families rambunctious kids whose parents refuse to put them on Ritalin while ignoring child-destructive environments and insisting on interventions that put the child-victim squarely into the punitive behavioral health system. Tearful ex-social workers testified that they are drugging abused kids, and doing nothing to disrupt the violent homelife, much less identify and address the trauma that the children are enduring at the hands of their untreated parents.
It boggles the mind, what should be the child’s advocates are actually collaborators with their abuse. If I didn’t hear about this happening I could cling to hope for reform within the system, but it’s not changing anywhere for kids, as far as I can tell.
I don’t want to turn into someone who talks too often about where I am in my process, it’s just another way to pass the time. So who’s next, anyone out there Liberated yet? I used to think Liberation was all about staying drunk, so very transgressive, don’tchaknow.