The Latest Development In Psychobabble

Psychobabble is also a psychological term used to denote the misdiagnosis and misclassification of natural variation in human psychology as psychopathological, or mentally disordered, and is based upon the premise of exaggerated overmedicalization of physiological ailments to increase profits for the medical industry.
~from Psychobabble – Wikipedia

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Agency), the US government mental health agency, out to develop a working definition of recovery, should consult the dictionary sometimes. The dictionary offers a much clearer definition of the word than any of the silt SAMHSA has been able to stir up recently.

SAMHSA’s working definition is as follows.

Recovery is a process of change whereby individuals work to improve their own health and wellness and to live a meaningful life in a community of their choice while striving to achieve their full potential.

Hello? If a person loses “it”, and the “it” that a person loses is “mental health”, finding “it” again is “recovery” of that “mental health”. Dig!

SAMHSA has a set of principles to prop up its, what I’d call dysfunctional, definition.

Principles of Recovery

• Person-driven;
• Occurs via many pathways;
• Is holistic;
• Is supported by peers;
• Is supported through relationships;
• Is culturally-based and influenced;
• Is supported by addressing trauma;
• Involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility;
• Is based on respect; and
• Emerges from hope.

There is a much simpler formulation of principles than this set. Mental health treatment center = mental disorder labeling factory; recovery = passage through a door to the world beyond.

Recovery, as redefined by SAMHSA, has become the opium of the mental patient or the mental health services consumer. No longer is the goal of treatment seen as a complete recovery of mental health, instead the goal is seen as this vague process that leads nowhere. The goal is no longer to recover the health lost due to a serious affliction; the goal is now to consume that mental health treatment that calls itself recovery perpetually. Recovery has become for many people labeled “mentally ill” what heaven is to the superstitious, and what a classless society is to an Marxist ideologue, that elusive pea in a huckster’s shell game. Recovery, in this sense, is about the fulfillment of the falsity of a false hope, or self-betrayal (self-deceit).

Real recovery is a process, and this process has a beginning, middle, and an end. The end of this process is the recovered state, past tense, which comes with a cessation of treatment.

SAMHSA has gone so far as to identify 4 major domains that support recovery, unfortunately common sense is not one of those domains.

• Health: overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) as well as living in a physically and emotionally healthy way;
• Home: a stable and safe place to live that supports recovery;
• Purpose: meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income and resources to participate in society; and
• Community: relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.

The problem here is that “managing” is what happens when the “disease” is deemed beyond one’s capacity to “overcome”. You let “managing” in, and for a growing number of people, “overcoming” becomes more and more elusive. Somebody has more or less drawn a line in the sand between those people who can, and those people who can’t, “overcome”. If recovery meant overcoming here, we’d have a problem.

Home translates into housing. Housing is what the growing homeless population is lacking. All homeless people are not labeled “mentally ill”, neither are all people labeled “mentally ill” homeless. The way to recovery (dictionary meaning, not SAMHSA’s) from homelessness is through the provision of decent affordable housing with no strings attached. Housing first programs are programs that manage to provide this type of housing, and the amazing thing about it is, in contrast to more tyrannical programs, they actually work.

When psycho-social rehabilitation is a manner of treating people parenthetically, that is, of taking the meaning and purpose out of daily activities, for example, assigning people tasks to perform without providing payment for those tasks, it is very much a part of the problem. This is where the missing common sense comes in, and its glaring absence speaks volumes. Escape from the parenthesis, walk through the door, and–guess what?–sense applies again.

Community is the reason some people wind up undergoing mental health treatment. Then the problem becomes when your community is a community of people undergoing mental health treatment you have a very limited sense of community. These relationships and social networks have to extend beyond the treatment community to be very effective. I think that this is an important point that SAMHSA should make, that SAMHSA isn’t making.

As for the definition of recovery, I don’t think you can beat the 1st sense given at yourdictionary.com.

1. the act or an instance of recovering; specif.,
      a. a regaining of something lost or stolen
      b. a return to health, consciousness, etc.
      c. a regaining of balance, control, composure, etc.
      d. a retrieval of a capsule, nose cone, etc. after a spaceflight or launch
      e. the removal of valuable substances from waste material, byproducts, etc.

If we think of a regaining of lost or stolen health, or a regaining of lost or stolen mind, same thing.

SAMHSA is crazy, and this is a big part of the problem. If SAMHSA wasn’t crazy, SAMHSA would realize that you don’t have to make the English language nonsensical. In fact, making the English language nonsensical impedes communications, and communication is important when it comes to, let’s not use the word recovery, overcoming “mental illness” labeling. Making the English language nonsensical though makes sense when what you’re really after is confusing the issue. All these disability “workers” that disable with SAMHSA are set for life if they can confuse the issue sufficiently.

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2 Responses

  1. For decades the shrinks got by with the use of willful ignorance and lies. Nowadays they also use the methods of PR, politicians and corporations which is to misuse language.

    As children the psychtroopers were told by their terrible parents that if they wished hard enough that they could do and be anything they wanted. When they realized that they could not alter the laws of physics they went mad but retained their sense of entitlement. They now think that they are entitled to lie and pervert language.

    • Perverted language goes along with a perverted role. What, after all, is a mental health worker (psychologist, social worker, case manager), but a glorified adult baby sitter. Somebody looked around and noticed all these under-employed people in the mental health system. In the USA now they’re hiring and certifying patient/consumers as what they call Peer Support Specialists. I guess you could call these certified Peer Support Specialists glorified adult baby sitter helpers. Another parellel that can be made between Peer Support Specialists, mental health staff, and mental patients is with prison guards (screws), trustees, and inmates. The mental health system now has its paid turncoats. Theoretically all this has something to do with a vague notion called recovery, unfortunately in practice it’s business as usual. Business as usual here is an expanding mental health system. In my opinion, a truly recovery oriented system would be a contracting system. Everyday of the week you read about, complementing massive media advertising campaigns on the part of pharmaceutical companies, an increase in the numbers of people labeled “mentally ill”. If a real recovery oriented system were implemented, these rates should be going down, not up. All in all, this business is about the selling of mental health treatment, and you can’t sell mental health treatment without also selling “mental illness”. Mental health workers don’t like unemployment any more than anybody else.

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