I try to praise the mutilated world

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.


by W.S. Merwin

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

Where did our love go?

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.”

So I’m learning what it’s like to type in all caps

Angelbait is home and convalescing better than expected. Kamikaze is hissy and I feel drunk. Think mental health reform is contentious? I think the similarities with feline diabetes are about to blow my mind.

The learning curve is steep, a week ago I did not know feline diabetes existed and today I’ve got a handle on the basics of diet, syringes, lancets, meters, ketones, spreadsheets, blood glucose home-testing, and my favorite, how to introduce hyperglycemia during insulin shock, which led to complete meltdown and eccentric 3 AM googling (guess which one is mine, ha ha ha).

Yes, long-term hyperglycemia is bad, but you have to introduce it temporarily during hypoglycemia to save the cat’s life. Oh, ok. Now then, spend 3 days tracking down the ingredients in a can of cat food, because the manufacturers hoard the data. Wonder why? It’s a conspiracy! No, it really is, those fuckers.

The Feline Diabetes Message Board is a wealth of information, award-winning, altruistic, been around since 1996 and more than a little cutting edge, which leads to all the proselytizing and threats you expect from activists who managed to save a life by going against the standard treatment protocol. The most vocal members are understandably pissed about the wrecking mainstream and long passed waiting for the science to catch up with their approach. But I entered in the middle of the plot with all the desperation of the newbie and whimpering hope that the vet will tell me what to do, forgetting for the time that this is health care, after all, capitalism’s crowning clusterfuck.

I had to step back and start over with the “meta” issues in the ever-shifting field and ground. How to assess credibility, sanity, common sense when challenging philanthropists, figure out how to do it without being abandoned, sort out who to trust when I trust no one, because when opinions differ measuring horse-sense is something that needs doing before you even begin dealing with the treatment protocol, and not enough people seem to realize that. No cookies til you prove it. Make me explain why? O god please kill me.

Sitting at my computer these days not even sure if I’m reading about establishment psychiatry or veterinary medicine. A comment I made on the FDMB might ring a few bells for some:

You realize what you all are advising here is very, very hard to take. Let me know you have the self-awareness to get how disturbing is your insistence that I be


with my



I need to know that you are self-aware, to test your basic RATIONALITY, sorry, but that’s life on the internets.

Testy, no love lost there. Next day:

“Some of us have a theory”, thanks that explains a lot. I’m a health science nerd and total policy wonk, and when things settle down will want to know more about the research base, whether it’s commercially funded or grassroots experimental, and how the model is received by the medical/science community, if it has been denoted as an evidence-based emerging or promising practice. I just don’t have the sense to get into this right now but am sure it will lead to interesting discussions.


My anxiety has to do with the human element, it’s not that people hide the truth, it just feels that way most of the time and this particular urgency precludes waiting for the truth to emerge the way it does, in stages, as people get to know each other and the conversations deepen. When one mistake can kill my cat I am kind of insane about the discrepancies. They stand out, that’s just me. There is the enormous good work being done, and there are gray areas, that’s just life.

Happily, most of what they advise is adding up for Angelbait. My vet is fantastic and I have been able to ask intelligent questions when his protocol disagrees with the FDMB and so far he approves of the modifications. And there is cross-pollination with the scientific/research community, who also watch and critique the site so I am beginning to relax and act less like a dick.

Any regular readers asking what in tarnation is going on with this blog, looks like it’ll be occupied with cat matters too now, but I’m as exercised as ever about the great downward spiral in community mental health. I just opened last week’s google alerts, almost every one of them calling for outright forced drugging and supervision of people with severe and persistent mental labels. This is how it happens, they’re opening up the Overton Window, it’s frightening, not at all therapeutic, and it’s happening under our noses. Visit a zillion mental health blogs asking every one, where is the pushback, why is NAMI on your blogroll, is NAMI your advocate? Does NAMI speak for you? Yes? No? Am I suggesting NAMI is controversial, not what it seems to be? Do I ask too many questions? Here, have one. Just one, will be my gift to you.

How do they get away with it?

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.

Viagra comes to mind

Shit. I haven’t been able to look at this, til talking on the phone with Poodie tonight who said the story isn’t getting proper coverage. So I went looking for the truth at Shakesville, who hits it out of the park from the git:

THIS story should be reported with purpose. If it is not to be consumed as a pithy bit of titillation over one’s morning tea, it should be blunt, and it should be contextualized. No whitewashing, framed within a larger cultural narrative about the mistreatment of women and/or incidents of incest/child abuse in Austria. And then every. single. time. there is another story of this nature, the frame should be repeated. And repeated. And repeated. And repeated.

Until we can’t ignore its prevalence any longer. Until we can’t treat sexual abuse and torture as so much faff to be dismissed once we’ve had the obligatory “What a world!” grouse to salve our barely piqued consciences.


“I am not a monster…I could have killed all of them — then nothing would have happened. No one would have ever known about it.”

Faith healers

Over the last 4 years I’ve heard the term Evidence-Based Medicine™ invoked 20 times a day at the Capitol and named it gobbledygook from day one. Evidence-Based Medicine™ refers to interventions based on established criteria in the medical literature, involving steaming piles of horseshit from the academic domain that just happen to call for the most expensive procedures. But not til 2 weeks ago did I hear the first professional talk it down, in a committee on domestic violence, where “stop the bleeding” has become “drug the victim” since we live in an era that has medicalized what any reasonably empathic person should recognize as predictable aftermath. Meetings where victimization is the theme — battery, rape, child sodomy — this is domestic violence, while invited testimony is dominated by medical professionals. Fucking obscene.

After some six hours listening to her peers wank glowingly of Evidence-Based Medicine™ the representative from Texas Network of Abuse Prevention Services warned the senate to be wary of EBM terminology, said it is not a black and white seal of approval, that evidence-based appraisals are contested in the academy, due largely to bias in research, conflict of interest and the inherent difficulty of quantitative data-collection in human service research experiments. Evidence based services cost more, she said, agencies that make these investments need to know what an evidence based product is and how it is so denoted, and make sure that it is evidence based in substance and not in name only.

Speaking truth to power is always unexpected from that quarter, I’d say it’s a fluke but for what hit my inbox this week:

Why Evidence-Based Medicine Cannot Be Applied to Psychiatry

Co-written by Robert Levine, MD, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and Max Fink, MD, professor emeritus of psychiatry and neurology at Stony Brook NY, founding editor of The Journal of ECT and author of Electroshock: Restoring the Mind. Worthy opinion by the likes of dirty rotten scoundrels bears some looking into, and it goes without saying they’re going to get smacked down by their colleagues for publishing this in Psychiatric Times. Oh yes, it’s hard going, but anyone interested in EBM, this is the shit. (Sorry no linky, subscription only):

Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is rapidly becoming the norm. It is taught in medical schools and is encouraged by both government agencies and insurance plan providers. Yet, there is little proof that this model can be adapted to fit psychiatry.

EBM supposedly allows the clinician to offer the most effective treatment for each patient.1,2 This goal is laudable, but the model is not appropriate for psychiatry because precise and stable diagnostic criteria are lacking in our specialty. Treatment outcomes in psychiatry are not defined by remission or cure. Instead, fractional reductions in the number and severity of symptoms are accepted, as measured by rating scale scores. Evidence-based psychiatry (EBP) is an untested hypothesis; for this theory to be either useful or valid, 3 basic assumptions must be examined.

• Is the diagnostic system valid?
• Are the data from clinical trials assessing efficacy and safety sound?
• Are the conclusions in a form that can be applied in clinical practice?

Continue reading

Bloggy juxtapositions that made my head explode

I can’t believe I got sucked into a thread with a child abuse denier but it looks like I stepped in it. Sally caught the stink of evil for what it was off the bat in Why are so many kids mentally ill? while I was doing my “multi-perspective, tease out the complexities” liberal tolerant fence-sitting claptrap like a lamb jumping for the knife. The post brought out the “You’ll have to pry this troublesome child’s pharmaceuticals from my cold, dead hands” grandstanding by a mother who’s first post was an incoherent mess of spelling and grammatical errors; who’s style became remarkably more intelligent and articulate as she was challenged step by step, until she revealed that oh my stars and garters she happens to work in an official capacity with impaired children. It’s all very creepy and gotcha, the way this mindfuck game is played: present yourself initially as an inferior adversary, then gradually demonstrate your ability to think and speak like educated people, make jaws drop by alluding to some vague expertise of your own in these matters and you win, flounce away, savoring your devastating impact. I remember as a DV counselor encountering this type, it was the child rapists who above all felt entitled to be seen as good people, superior to their judges, and would call the child abuse hotline and attempt to paint a picture of reality that the counselor would validate as acceptable parenting, but the more you tease out those complexities the more the truly horrifying picture emerges. It’s very manipulative, almost seductive, and deliberately bewildering, once you realize what you’re dealing with the world drops out from beneath your feet. You will physically age for every call you get like that. Not to say I know what this woman’s deal is, but given she devotes 400 words to disputing the prevalence of child abuse and follows that with a disingenuous handling of the question of environment in assessing what makes a child run riot I’ve got the old chills up my spine today. I think she is amused by her own deft avoidance of the issue of environmental impact on behavior, as if that can only mean we are talking about this:

flawed plan, thank you for caring about my child’s environment. It’s been an interesting adventure, often to the surprising benefit of everyone, to make the environment more comfortable for him.

We were lucky to find a gifted OT who could help give us insight into the kind of activities that were calming to him, and those that helped to strengthen and organize his activity level and concentration, and raise his level of physical balance and bodily awareness. Brava!

Fail. “Environment” is code for what is going on in that house and I’m sure she knows it.

So I dropped by the more enlightened comforts of Pandagon, and see they’re trying to figure out how to make a DV victim testify against her abuser, since it is a frustration for law enforcement (to say nothing of the Cause) that so often women who have been abused recant their testimony and the beater goes free. A helpful commenter gained traction with this idea:

One could argue that beaten and brainwashed women are in mental health crisis, and should be treated the same way as anybody who is considered a danger to themselves.

In other words, they could be committed for a short time to receive the mental health services they require to fully restore their agency.

Fail fail, headdesk, emergency, smelling salts, seriously, Amanda says there are no right answers; I think there are, but that’s not it. After leaving my own typically inscrutable, hysterical 500 word comment I turn from that thread to todays paper and find
AP Exclusive: More than 800 employees have been suspended or fired for abusing mentally and developmentally disabled patients since fiscal year 2004, state officials said Tuesday.

Abuse, where? Mental health facilities! Which means? Governor Goodhair:

The state is doing its job.

I have no words.

Wonky time

I’m not a special interest voter. I believe single-issue voters who refuse to vote for a progressive based on one policy are responsible for keeping the left in splinters and the status quo dominant. Single-issue voting also suggests over-investment in a single cause, which makes me question the voter’s overall judgment and dedication to the common good. But at base we’re all single-interest babies to some extent, and during election cycles it’s something I try to monitor and question to keep from queering my perspective, so to speak. So, while I don’t care only about mental health policy, I care enough to be frustrated by the moratorium on discussing my issue with force and meaning. Yes it’s scary and there’s a lot we don’t know about mental illness, but the same can be said for the war and we’re talking about that.

I caught some of yesterday’s Congressional hearings, and it appears Obama was the smartest person in the room. But 2 minutes into her testimony it was Hillary Clinton who said this:

The cost to our men and women in uniform is growing. Last week the New York Times noted the stress on the mental health of our returning soldiers and marines from multiple and extended deployments. Among combat troops sent to Iraq for the third and fourth time, more than one in four show signs of anxiety, depression, or acute stress. … The Administration and supporters of the Administration’s policy often talk about the cost of leaving Iraq yet ignore the greater cost of continuing the same failed policy.

Word. What she means by “anxiety, depression and acute stress” can be seen up close and personal here.

While we’re on it, might as well compare and contrast a couple mental health policy statements the candidates gave to NAMI dearest last winter. You may recall NAMI sent the candidates a 24 item questionnaire based on their pro-drug, anti-choice medical model propaganda. Thin gruel, but the only documented clue we have as to where the candidates stand on mental illness. Little wonder that McCain, who is in the news this week for calling his wife a “cunt” wouldn’t go within an inch of responding to NAMI’s questions about mental health, and the Democrat’s responses are party-line, which is good, but we need sharper discourse and real vetting, especially with regard to Obama’s focus on preventive policy, which rings the nanny bells that so many of us have had it up to here with. But then he goes and hints he will appoint our kind to his executive branch:

I also believe that the federal government should be a model employer of workers with disabilities or mental illness…. To assure that the federal government holds itself to high anti-discrimination standards, I will increase funding to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and assure that the person I appoint to chair the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is committed to enforcing anti-discrimination laws that protect federal employees through a strong Office of Federal Operations. Perhaps most important, I will provide leadership to my appointees throughout the executive branch so that they, employers in the private sector, and workers with disabilities across the country will understand the importance of this issue.

I also find his strong-worded responses to issues of discrimination, seclusion and restraint encouraging but hard to believe so long as he remains subservient to the biopsychiatry framework. On the other hand, Clinton, responding to the question of parity, takes the opportunity to link pharma with the very idea that things aren’t all that hunky dory: (my bold)

All patients should have access to effective treatments recommended by their prescribing physician without the fear that government-sponsored or private insurance will deny these life-saving medicines. That said, we do need to have a better understanding of the best pharmaceutical treatment options for all patients, which is why I have proposed establishing an independent public-private Best Practices Institute. A public-private partnership, this institute would develop and guide research priorities so that doctors, nurses, and other health professionals know what drugs, devices, surgeries, and treatments work best.

Not exactly fighting words, but a hella more than the Rethuglicans have brought to the table, which by my count is nothing.