The media is not always the best place to go to learn about the mental health system. People who come out in the press as “mentally ill” are often cherry picked by mental health staff in order to make their profession look good. This, in effect, is the mental health system equivalent of what in slavery used to happen when the house slave was ordered to tell white folk about the joys of servitude, and did so. The very explanations you get in the press are indicative of the extent to which people are oppressed by the psychiatric system and mental health law.
I have long used the saying, “Nothing about us without us!”, when talking to people about our issues. Although I’ve been mostly ignored, and certainly that ignorance is no with us, I will continue to use this saying. If my words go in one ear, and out the other ear, that doesn’t cancel any of the experiences I have endured at the hands of the mental health establishment. I will continue to use those words up until and beyond the point when they are taken at face value. The suppression of free speech, and the silencing of dissent, are not with us either. When those words matter, my individual voice will matter, too, and with it the voice of everybody who has known the mental health system from the inside as prisoner or patient.
People on the receiving end of mental health treatment are often lumped together with what are referred to as “America’s most vulnerable citizens” by the media. They are also sometimes referred to as “voiceless”. In many cases other people, lawyers, politicians, even relatives, and suchlike designated mouthpieces, assume to be doing the talking for these people who are assumed to be unable to speak for themselves. Few people in the mental health system have had their tongues removed, or are mute. If you were to ask anyone of them a question, it’s highly likely that he or she would come up with an answer for you. Now if you can answer any question put to you, you probably don’t need another person to assume he or she would know better than you what you would say.
The next question is, why the intermediaries? Why this buffer zone? What are people afraid of? Is the public afraid that this or that patient is not going to regurgitate the official treatment line? I think sometimes such is the case. Is it the truth people are afraid of? Again, I think sometimes such is the case. People who are disoriented can speak for themselves. People who have been, but are no longer, disoriented can speak. People who were never disoriented in the first place can speak. The fact is though they can’t always speak through the walls people use to exclude them. They can’t speak through the defenses people have set up to defend themselves from their deepest fears. One of those deepest fears, apparently, is that these people when disoriented have any resemblance to themselves.
The distinction between mental health and “mental illness”, or at least serious “mental illness”, mental health seeming to be neutral, in the DSM is determined by one’s ability to function in society. Yes, function as in work, although it can also refer to play. The thing is that there are many people working inside of the mental health system itself who have had treatment for this “dysfunction” or that. They are working, and some of them are drawing in hefty salaries, and thus the seriousness of their “mental illnesses” could be said to be in remission at the very least. I’d like to see even more former patients working fulltime both inside and outside of the mental health system. In this way, we would know progress is being achieved.
Filed under: Alternatives, Biological Psychiatry, Discrimination, Disinformation, DSM, Fraud, Human Rights, Law, Mad Pride, Media, Mental Health Care, Oppression, psychiatric survivor, Recovery, self help | 6 Comments »