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Archive for the ‘BPD et al.’ Category

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 til 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 circumventing your own relief in the familiar.

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

Ω

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.

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She shouts for a reckoning with entire mouth and unspoilt heart. My friend Poodle (“Ursula”) from Christchurch NZ declares her joy, in love with these times. (rule for radicals: that’s why she’s a teacher and you’re not)

so thats me in the corner-thats me over there–was a hard arse interview 2 do-my dyslexia gets in the way some-times-just bear with it and it will show its beauty

Living With the Scars of Abuse

by KIM THOMAS
Source: Press, The Christchurch, New Zealand
Posted on: Wednesday, 1 October 2008, 15:00 CDT

New Zealand’s mental health system has a dark history, with hundreds of former patients alleging abuse in state hospitals. Kim Thomas tells the story of one woman who suffered abuse and explores what former patients are doing to try and take back their lives.

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Ursula spent her 22nd birthday huddling near naked in the corner of a bare room at Christchurch’s Sunnyside Hospital.

She was incarcerated at the now defunct mental-health hospital for slicing her arms from wrist to armpit with razors.

During her year-long stay at Sunnyside, Ursula (not her real name) was abused and humiliated.

For at least two months she was housed in an isolation room where she was stripped, sometimes by male nurses, and dressed in a thick woollen smock as punishment for her rowdy behaviour.

Her underpants and bra were taken from her and she was forced to use a pot as her toilet, in a room visible to staff and other patients.

More than 20 years later the scars of Ursula’s Sunnyside experience are still as visible as the razor marks lacing her arms. She is not alone.

Scores of former Sunnyside patients have disclosed abuse during their stay at the Gothic-style institution.

Nationwide, about 300 former patients claim abuse in mental hospitals during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Many were sent to psychiatric institutions because of behavioural difficulties but then treated as if they had serious psychiatric illnesses. Some were as young as eight.

Allegations include physical and sexual abuse, long periods of solitary confinement and the use of electro-convulsive (electric shock) therapy (ECT) as punishment.

In 2004, Attorney-General Margaret Wilson announced the establishment of a confidential forum where former patients, their families and hospital staff could tell their stories.

It recently announced a new forum, called the Listening and Assistance Service, for people who allege abuse or neglect during their time in state care in the health, child welfare or residential special education sector before 1992.

Justice and compensation is also being pursued in the law courts.

Wellington lawyer Sonia Cooper represents about 200 of 300 former psychiatric patients, including Ursula, seeking compensation for abuse.

They filed their first claims for compensation in 2004 but the matter remains unresolved. Cooper says she tried to negotiate with the Government out of court but failed.

In the latest chapter of this long running legal process, the Court of Appeal recently passed a judgment saying the Government had to prove that the actions former patients say was abuse was actually treatment, Cooper says.

“We want an acknowledgement that this abuse happened and an apology. If the Crown had been willing to deal with this out of the courts we wouldn’t be pursuing legal action,” Cooper says.

The Government has already made one large settlement to former psychiatric patients; in 2001, 183 former patients of Lake Alice’s adolescent unit received an apology and a share of $10.7 million compensation for claims including receiving ECT and injections as punishment, sexual abuse, ECT on the genitals in several cases, and one of being locked in a cage with a deranged adult.

About 240 civil cases are still pending.

A Crown Law office spokeswoman says it is reading the very complicated Crown Law judgement to decide what steps to take next.

Ursula says she would be dead had she stayed longer in Sunnyside. She sought legal counsel and had herself checked out of the hospital.

Ursula has a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. She says 20 years ago the disorder was poorly understood.

As a result, treatment for her self-harm and erratic behaviour involved being put into an isolation cell as punishment. Good behaviour was rewarded with treats such as winning her underwear back.

For a sexual abuse victim such as Ursula, being stripped was the ultimate in humiliation.

“I saw it as an extension of the brutality I had already had forced on me.”

She says she cannot believe the way people such as herself were treated in an environment that was supposed to be therapeutic.

Sunnyside was demolished last year. But even after its demise it holds a significant and sinister place in Christchurch’s collective conscience.

Christchurch theatre director Tony McCaffrey has recently secured Creative New Zealand funding to develop a play based on the goings on in the former mental-health hospital, which he hopes to open the stage curtains on next year.

As part of his research McCaffrey visited the ruins of the old hospital and pored over patient log books and photographs.

He also interviewed former nurses, superintendents and patients.

“I believe it’s important to acknowledge the huge role Sunnyside played in Christchurch’s history and craft a memorial to that,” McCaffrey says.

“Since I started this project almost everyone I talk to has some connection to the place, whether they knew someone who worked there or stayed there. Everyone has a story.”

McCaffrey says Sunnyside housed people from all walks of life and the way they were treated is an insight into the community’s psyche over the past century.

Sunnyside’s history also provides a window into the dark history of Christchurch because of some of the inhumane acts that happened there.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Judi Clements said abuse that occurred in institutions is a crying shame.

She says many staff from those times still feel ill at the things that went on.

However, they were often only doing what they were told or what was best practice at the time, Clements says. In time, people will probably look back at certain practices which occur in the mental health sector now, such as electric shock therapy, and condemn them as cruel or unnecessary.

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I likes it.

Via, an old wiki entry that’s been replaced by a more clinical definition, alas:

“The goal of psychodynamic therapy is the experience of truth. This truth must be encountered through the breakdown of psychological defenses. Simply stated:

[psychodynamic] psychotherapy teaches the client to be honest.

Individuals suffering from “psychological disorders” or deep-rooted “personality disorders,” often come from confusing, manipulative, dishonest, or even violent families in childhood. Being honest with ones feelings is a difficult, even terrifying process for these people.

But there is a silver lining. If the patient client is willing to face up to their hidden secrets they will discover the unconscious reason for many of their feelings, and therefore obtain self-understanding and relief. In essence

the more honest and direct one is with his/her life,

the more “symptoms” will

dissolve,

and the more one’s childhood and defenses are understood.”

Read a decent exploration of how all that comes together at Mental Health Net: The HBO TV show In Treatment: Understanding how patients ‘lie’ to themselves and others is at the heart of dynamic psychotherapy.

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These two posts caught my eye today, different starting points but seem related somehow:

Philip at Furious Seasons responds to a reader who asks if bipolar is a dangerous gift, and the breadth and scope of his response deserves a standing ovation. Not only does he describe the Icarus Project clearly and with enviable economy, he explores the possibility that what we sometimes call mental illness has more to do with personality and character issues, the medicalization of which enriches no one but the medical establishment. No, don’t expect recovery (especially since we’re avoiding the real issues), or as his pshrink tells Philip after successfully going off meds and being subclinical for years, Once diagnosed, Never undiagnosed, i.e. you’ll never make it without me.

If anyone but a psychiatrist said that it would be considered abuse. It’s abusive to nourish dependency and hopelessness, and no less so when a professional does it from a place of fear and prejudice, from their *training* in the scientific method. As if. All abusers create dependency to feed the ego-gratification of their own indispensability, the difference when a psychiatrist does it is in the additional perks of social superiority in relation to a defective human, the expectation of gratitude, and of course the most relevant and un-ending paycheck.
Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?
Yes, and on the other hand baby, here’s a treat at Daily Kos from our punk rock Candid Psychiatrist; Stop calling EVIL a mental illness. Predictably, his rendition of conscious evil to describe ah, conscious evil, comes under fire as imprecise and inflammatory from the usual science-addled liberal quarter, to which the CP replies

I’m not concerned about being inflammatory–I’m already inflamed!!!

Let me know if I’m reaching in seeing these two posts as somehow related. The underlying question seems to be, “who is in the driver’s seat, your disease or your volition?” So much is at stake in the answer to that. Who profits and who loses? Power, money, control, the mantle of science, the comfort of certainty, intellectual escapism, all in all, including the comments, much thought provoking, this here radical psych-O-sphere.

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Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the grey feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Adam Zagajewski
Translated by Renata Gorczynski

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I’m still having a hard time recovering from mental illness awareness week, migraines, can’t sleep and nightmares when I can, plus waking up crying. I woke up and hollered “Molly!” a few hours ago, and I’ve been drinking a bit to take the edge off, which is nothing to me but a clue. Molly Ivins lived in this city, and this week I’m going to walk the streets she walked, the streets she urged us, in her final proclamation, to run into with glee, banging pots and pans, shouting “We are the deciders.”

No, we’re not. Over a hundred google alerts in my inbox last week promoting awareness of mental illness, and not one word about child abuse, because, do I have this right — because NAMI — a family organization — is in charge — do I have that right — in charge of mental illness awareness — NAMI, is that right? Wait, ok, so the ghosts are in my house, my people, my blood, thicker than water, kinship, my loyal perpetrators, no escape, she’s dead and I’m buried, mom without end. This is how it was, invisibility in the family, this is how it is, invisibility in the mental health system, it feels like I’m in the wrong time frame, I don’t even know where I am, it’s all seamless, positively fourth street. I read the pdf files and feel like I’m losing my mind, they use our language, capital “R” recovery — recovery is possible, expect recovery! Recovery from what? With what? Drugs and denial, symptom suppression, fuck you, my symptoms need expression, space, recognition, discharge, that takes skill, competence, — Expect Recovery — I expect Mark Eitzel is on the stereo saving me “Why do you say everything as if you were a thief? Like what you stole has no value, and what you preach is far from belief?”

That’s what they do, steal a thing of beauty and turn it into shit, “It only takes one person to change the world!” Yes and tomorrow we’ll change it back, because we write, another behavior you’ll never begin to understand.

I have to type more about me and the first thing to appreciate is that I don’t want to. This is one reason we remain invisible in mental health policy and even to our own ignorant CBT “solution focused” treatment providers, we avoid the material, and all the fixers in the system collude with us, by failing to educate themselves about traumatized personality development, because they don’t want to look at it either. It’s a human tendency to avoid the dark and depraved, it’s unsettling to sit with, and take it in day after day, it screws people up to listen. It’s about helplessness, people have a problem with being helpless, they can’t change or undo anything, they can only be witnesses, and that’s enough!

The only therapists who are of any use are not available to most of us anymore, the old school, expensive, time-intensive treatment associated with psychoanalysis is what we need, and that is not an option today.

Therapists can’t just ask outright “were you abused as a child?” Because we’ll say no, dummy, we were indoctrinated to conceal, minimize and forget what was happening. We have no language. I didn’t say a word my first year, I drew pictures, gave my therapist collages made from magazines, took her by the hand and walked her outside and pointed at a tree. It takes a year in therapy to prepare to do the work of trauma, to build trust and go at it at a very slow angle. You need an intentional therapist sitting across from you that whole year, who knows what they’re doing, consciously working to prepare you for doing the work you dread.

I have been scared for a long time, I have been thinking about it all last week, remembering troublewaits, when I didn’t even know what I was talking about, just wailing that some undefined they were taking trauma out of existence. Erasing the concept. Now I am seeing it happening. I think. Who is doing this? Is it NAMI? Am I invisible to my allies too? Do others working as activists in mh liberation who know I insist on inclusion of the trauma model know or care why I say that? Tell me, what are my Suicide Survivor Notes about? When I talk about “my hospital records” do you assume I mean psych ward, and not the general emergency room where I went to get my ribs taped up after my NAMI did what they always did? I won’t spell that out every time you know, that was my mother.

Fighting biopsychiatry is not just about getting to the truth, it’s about the specific needs and challenges facing traumatized persons in the realm of mental health, and about making general sense out of personalities that are a real foreign land, which is useful for everyone, but of paramount relevance for people in the provider system. There are maps, this has all been studied and paid for, research and books and movies and songs, and 1200 scars on my best friends arms, programmed to self-destruct, still here, heroically in the way. We are in the system, we don’t always know why we end up in a mental health facility, but I am one who does know what happened to me, and what it did to me, and that there is no cure, and that there doesn’t need to be.

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