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Archive for the ‘Family’ 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

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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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It’s not everyday reading something on the Internet can move me to tears, but I’ve given up hope on seeing something like this post (and commentary) at Whiskey Fire. The study is not yet published and I know it only begins to scratch the surface but for the first time since the tests were done on me I have hope, if not for myself I can imagine glad tidings for tomorrow’s little Dickens.

When the neuropsychologist laid it out for me 10 years ago I was crying and he was almost crying, because he couldn’t answer my very pointed questions and account for the disparities in my mental examination. An evaluation spanning eight hours over two days, as comprehensive as it gets, followed by a 25 page report and two hour debriefing and still something missing hangs in the air. In the end I knew that he knew and we both knew what I needed to hear that he couldn’t say. What I didn’t know was that he couldn’t say it because there was no supporting cognitive science to make our unspoken hypothesis official in a formal setting. Correlation is not enough to move the world off its ass, but I have had enough correlation to last a lifetime, and that time is running out. Catch up with me.

He tried to make me feel better like Jake the Snake talks at Whiskey Fire — it’s not a life sentence, keep building up strengths, focus on your incredible resilience and amazing inner resources. Oh please. Show me the science.
Now we’re talking. It’s a start.

“This is a wake-up call…these kids have no neurological damage… yet, the prefrontal cortex is not functioning as efficiently as it should be….researchers suspect that stressful environments and cognitive impoverishment are to blame…The study is suggestive and a little bit frightening that environmental conditions have such a strong impact on brain development…”

Suggestive and a little bit frightening indeed.

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I often wonder what it will look like to reach the point of not just surviving my misfortunes but being simply and profoundly grateful for every single thing that has ever happened to me. And why people who want things like that are so perplexing to those who don’t. Those who wonder, in their golden ways what’s so funny about gallows humor, the sole comfort of those who’ve escaped the hangman and an affront to those who have no knowledge of his existence.

Welp, there it is, in black & white, no less.

Thanks

by W.S. Merwin

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

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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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Heard from our first NAMI defender today in a comment too fuckwadity to dissect though it’s befitting of due ridicule in what I hope to be the first in a protracted and honorable sword-crossing with our authoritarian rightwing mental health overlords. Participatory dialogue between consumers and families is so very long overdue it was with bated breath I opened the email only to discover that I’m fat lazy ugly self-absorbed and write a shitty blog, do nothing to improve the world while the good people of NAMI, who are VOLUNTEERS, freely volunteer their time and energy to advocate for the mentally ill. O yes compared to them my own perfidy knows no bounds, even poor, helpless diabetic Angelbait is not laid low with chronic disease in the prime of her nine lives, but is an attention-seeking feline who is clearly neurotic and her butt stinks and she likes to smell her own butt. The fact that I would blog about a sick cat is further proof I have no idea how the Internets work.

All this to say my first comment by a NAMI defender was everything I hoped it would be — senseless, textbook character assassination, unsurprising unless you consider it remarkable that an organization founded on the denial of interpersonal abuse should be defended by an ally who spews an onslaught of personalized abuse, which I don’t find remarkable at all, and is in fact central to the case we are making against the pharma-funded family advocate wrecking crew.

Let me be clear — NAMI is comprised of standard emotional abusers, who take their page from the standard how-to-abuse manual, whether targeting kids, women, animals, immigrants or bloggers, up to and including the part where they project their own twisted hatred onto their prey, deny their own antisocial tendencies which are deployed for nothing but the rush of sheer pleasure that results from humiliating their would-be victims, a pleasure they also don’t understand, and know only that the target clearly asked for it by being fat, old, proud, self-referential, caring for shitty sick cats, and as any rapist will tell you, running around with her tits hanging out.

No, my first family troll did not surprise or disappoint in the least, I will simply note the momentous occasion by highlighting a classic NAMI intervention in their ongoing mission to “eradicate the stigma of mental illness and improve the quality of life of those affected by brain diseases.” First, a digression if I may; many critics of NAMI focus on their “brain disease” mantra as a scientifically unsupportable mis-attribution and it is that. But evil wears many hats, and I submit that all of NAMI’s rhetoric is carefully groomed and thoroughly vetted before it’s introduced, and by the time we hear it the users have been schooled to speak solely within that frame in order to seize the discourse and ignore alternative conceptual frames as if they don’t exist. This is what they do. NAMI is a lobby group engaged in all the tactics of political hardball. As such the term brain disease serves a dual purpose, as the final word on psychiatric phenomena, which most educated and enlightened people are affronted by, and so we concentrate on arguing with the sophistry and hubris demonstrated up-front. But wait, there’s more! The implicit purpose of promulgating the concept of brain disease is in securing the complete dehumanization of the victim, required by abusers in order for them to justify interpersonal violence. That too is part of the inflicter’s handbook, as criminologists discovered in their early studies of serial killers, nobody wants to feel like a monster. So you divest your target of their basic humanity.

Brain disorder is NAMI’s ruling trope, giving them license to inflict, which is why they repeat it incessantly in every publication, and why it needs to be attacked on grounds that it totally dehumanizes. How can you abuse a brain disease? Neat, isn’t it. So is their vulnerability. We’ll come back to this, meanwhile what say we get on with it and strap all our chairs to the floor.

SOURCE: Sheldon Richman, Editor, Ideas on Liberty, quoted by Szasz, T. Mental illness: From shame to pride:

The NAMI rhetoric conceals that the organization is composed of, and controlled by, principally the relatives of so-called mentally ill persons and that its main purpose is to justify depriving such persons of liberty in the name of mental health. So convinced is NAMI of the nobility of its cause, that its web site offers this scenario:

Sometime, during the course of your loved one’s illness, you may need the police. By preparing now, before you need help, you can make the day you need help go much more smoothly. … It is often difficult to get 911 to respond to your calls if you need someone to come & take your MI relation to a hospital emergency room (ER). They may not believe that you really need help. And if they do send the police, the police are often reluctant to take someone for involuntary commitment. That is because cops are concerned about liability. … When calling 911, the best way to get quick action is to say, “Violent EDP,” or “Suicidal EDP.” EDP stands for Emotionally Disturbed Person. This shows the operator that you know what you’re talking about. Describe the danger very specifically. “He’s a danger to himself “is not as good as “This morning my son said he was going to jump off the roof.” … Also, give past history of violence. This is especially important if the person is not acting up. … When the police come, they need compelling evidence that the person is a danger to self or others before they can involuntarily take him or her to the ER for evaluation. … Realize that you & the cops are at cross purposes. You want them to take someone to the hospital. They don’t want to do it. Say, “Officer, I understand your reluctance. Let me spell out for you the problems & the danger. …While NAMI is not suggesting you do this, the fact is that some families have learned to “turn over the furniture” before calling the police. Many police require individuals with neurobiological disorders to be imminently dangerous before treating the person against their will. If the police see furniture disturbed they will usually conclude that the person is imminently dangerous.

Deliberately giving false information to the police is a felony. Except, it seems, when the falsehood serves the avowed aim of providing mental health treatment for a “loved one.”


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Because “when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag.”

That’s the principle behind NAMI’s propaganda-as-philanthropy campaign to exonerate themselves in the eyes of the world, which  continues apace. And on the back of consumers, natch. They’ve delivered sets of 20 books to seven libraries. Who does that, and why? Imagine if the KKK did this, the outcry would be instant and deafening. But these people are pro’s, the nation’s hate groups could do worse than look at NAMI to take their lessons.

The paperback books cover the gamut of mental illnesses through a variety of authors who are experts in the field.

“We’ve been concerned for some time that there’s no up-to-date information in our libraries on mental illness and it has changed so much that we really need to be educating, or perhaps re-educating the public on mental illness,” Pinion said. “Everything has changed greatly, even in the past five to 10 years. Mental illness is a 100 percent, certified brain disease, and we need to get that information out.”

And the money quote:

Pinion said the books will also help eradicate stigma associated with mental illness.

Against who? For whom does NAMI advocate? They’re not hiding anything, but the truth has a way of getting lost. NAMI’s focus is on removing social disapproval, you betcha. But that focus is not now and has never been on eliminating the social disapproval placed on those diagnosed with mental illness. If you don’t understand that perhaps it’s because they are doing such a bang-up job in fulfilling their mission.

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