Pardon me for my overindulgent nitpicking the other day. I get like that sometimes. I’ve been suffering bouts of mad humility ever since. I don’t think nitpicking is ever a virtue, even if I uncovered a real nitpicker in the process. When our aims are the same, why quibble over words?
C/S/X is convenient shorthand for consumer survivor expatient, obviously, and who am I to argue with ease and convenience. Consumer/survivor as a designation admits that the group is more heterogeneous than some people would allow. Some people forswear the consumer designation while others object to the psychiatric survivor appellation. We have a slogan that goes: nothing about us without us. If we are true to this slogan, then we have to allow for a broad constituency with a designation that is apt.
Some people are interested in receiving mental health treatment. These are mental health consumers. (Mental health users outside of the continental US and abroad.) Others are more interested in human rights, and often forswear the mental health system entirely. These, if they have experienced abuse at the hands of the mental health system, are psychiatric survivors. The lines are perhaps not as sharp I indicate, but you get the idea nonetheless.
I realize that some people are perhaps not at the place in their development that certain other people are. I don’t need to add appreciably to the divisiveness that already exists in our movement. A few of us must serve as bodhisattvas for the others among us who are not so highly advanced. We have faith that a higher consciousness will eventually be achieved even among the slower moving and dim witted.
I’m not an armchair activist. I’m not an ivytower radical. I don’t need to pretend that I am one. If the struggle is to be taken to the streets then I am one of the people to take it there. I’m not a person to sit idly by on the sidelines and watch as other people do our campaigning for us. I want to be among the people being dragged away by the police after they come to make their arrests.
By merely clawing at the surface one could miss entirely the substance of the matter. Words are never as important as substance. Words are only indicators of the substance that resides beyond them. We don’t need to waste valuable time arguing about the proper word to use. These things can be decided in committee, and I would be one to go along with the committee decision.
Some people have a tendency to take rather dubious diagnostic tags altogether too seriously. Some doctors, as when exaggerating the extent of their clients’ disability and deterioration, do the same. Some of these exaggerations even have a tendency to become self-fulfilling prophesies. Humor is but one more weapon in our arsenal that we can use against this ‘sick’ ‘sickness’ system. The burden of such weighty prophesies can be lifted by applying a little bit of levity to the situation. In this sense, we carry around in our little black bags the antidote to the physicians’ error, and to the ‘disease’ itself. I am not going to disavow the use of this weapon.