Do Not Feed The Monster

The difference between a mental patient and a mental health consumer is identical to the difference between a garbage person and a sanitation engineer, that is, it is a matter of words, of jargon. I say this because we have had what we call the psychiatric survivor, in former times also referred to as the mental patients’ liberation, movement. This movement has been instrumental in working to free people from the oppressive constraints of psychiatric intervention and the patient role.

Much confusion has been stirred up, of more recent date, due to the merging of that movement with what has come to be called the consumer movement, a movement that could be said to be lead by, or colluding with, the federal government. The consumer movement is not so much about liberating a person from the role of patient as it is about accommodating him or her in that role.

In part, the consumer movement has been a more or less successful attempt to subvert or co-opt the psychiatric survivor movement. It is something that can’t be completely successful, for if it was, you’d no longer have psychiatric survivors, you’d just have people stuck in the mental patient role. Funny thing, huh, when some people try to suggest that the mental patient role is an inescapable lifelong or chronic matter of “pathology”?

Colluding with the federal government is a matter of begging money from the feds, gained through taxation, to continue in the mental patient, alternately called mental health consumer, role. To further elaborate, the rallying cry of the consumer is more apt to be the right to treatment while the rallying cry of the survivor is more apt to be the right to refuse treatment.

This is a matter of accent. To further elaborate, psychiatric survivors are people who see themselves as more harmed by the mental health system  than “helped” while mental health consumers are more likely to see themselves as “helped” by the mental health system. It doesn’t end there though, there is overlap, there are survivors who feel they need “help” or “support”, and there are consumers who feel they have been harmed and oppressed by the system as well as “helped”.

I bring this up because there  are a number of rallies and marches “for mental health and dignity” in the planning stages right now. The idea behind these events is to accent mental health as a positive thing and, additionally, to focus attention on “stigma”. I imagine that the ulterior motive of these rallies and marches is a matter of rattling that tin cup before the federal government and the working public, and crying, “Nickels for your pity.”

This “positive slant” also involves ignoring the twin proverbial elephants of forced and harmful treatments in the room. Joseph Rogers and Daniel Fisher have expressed interest in getting the word out about these events. It’s–the smiley masks, this ignorance and deception–a lie that I really can’t endorse. Needless to say, I have no interest in attending such events. I would encourage others, unless they want to launch a disruption, or to conduct a counter march and rally, to do the same.

Is “mental illness” underfunded?

One way to deal with a problem is not to pay for it . In fact, it could be a solution to all sorts of problems. Problems that are subsidized tend to thrive.

The man who probably did the most to end forced psychiatric treatment in the USA in recent history was a Republican politician by the name of Ronald Reagan. I think you’ve probably all heard of him. He helped deinstitutionalize institutions, first in California, and second in the rest of the nation, by defunding them.

 A little refresher 101 might come in handy at this point. We have had a mental health movement for some time in this country. This movement is actually a “mental illness” movement. (Review the first paragraph.)

First you have moral management with the introduction of asylums, then here comes Dorothea Dix contributing her part to the asylum building boom that immediately followed. At the beginning of the 20th century, there’s Clifford Beers doing his part for mental hygiene, supporting treatment, bashing illness, if entirely theoretical illness at that.

 The mental health movement wants the government to pay for mental health treatment. The mental health movement hit pay dirt with the Kennedy administration. The Kennedy administration came up with the community mental health system idea, and passed an act to get it started.

Depopulate state mental hospitals, and what do you do with all the inhabitants then? No Clue? Well, one thing you could do is create little mini-hospitals in communities throughout the country. Another thing you could do is treat the prodigal son or daughter returning from one of these institutions like everybody else. The Kennedy admin legislation decided on the first option.

I read once that a person is “mentally ill” until the insurance runs out, and I think this statement is relatively true. If necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes, when one is subsidized by the tax payer, working ceases to become a necessity.

 Today there is a movement directed towards hiring patients in the mental health system as para-professional mental health workers. I have a few issues with this approach. Namely, what is the difference between a disabled person and a non-disabled person in the mental health field? Stumped. Well, I will tell you then. Employment.

Employing people in mental health is not getting them jobs in other fields, nor is it getting them very far from the problem, that problem being the mental health system. If a person enters the system against his or her will and wishes, does working for that system really represent a significant improvement?

Unfortunately, mental health insurance parity is on the horizon for which I suggest holding your nose. What was I saying about necessity? I know, There are those people with jobs in mental health care. Maybe some of them might be able to do a little bit of good.  All I can say to  them is, “When are you going to get a real job?”

The Coming Plague

I have a friend who spends much of his time traveling in Asia. He is a psychiatric survivor, and he says he prefers Asia to the USA precisely because people are not going on and on about “mental health”, “mental health treatment”, and “mental disorders” all the time there.

In the USA, on the other hand, it is thought right and proper to air “mental health” laundry. It is thought by some, not yours truly, that bringing “mental illness” out of the shadows so-to-speak is a way of attacking the “stigma” associated with psychiatric labels.  The problem with this way of thinking is that it doesn’t acknowledge that the “stigma” comes with the label, in fact, you could say they are identical.

I’m sick of hearing about “mental health” myself. I’m sick of hearing about “mental health treatment”, and I’m sick of hearing about “mental disorders”. In some quarters of the nation this medico-literary emphasis is truly obsessive, and what comes of obsessing? Well, often it is excess.

There is a demand for “mental illness” because without  “mental illness” “mental health” wouldn’t have a market. Perhaps, for the sake of clarity, I need to rephrase the last sentence. A rich supply of “mental illness” fuels the market for “mental health treatment” which in turn creates a further demand for “mental illness”, a demand all too easily met.

The “mental illness” rates have been soaring for years. The World Health Organization tells us “mental illness” is set to distance physical illness as the number one cause of disability in the world. This means the number one reason for “disability payments” by the government, supplied by labor of  tax payers, in the future is going to be “mental illness”.

Right away we’ve got a problem. For all the efforts psychiatry has made to claim psychiatric problems somatic, this supposition remains devoid of solid proof.  Psychiatry has been notoriously unsuccessful, not as a business, but as a branch of medical science. The proof is in the pudding, and in this instance, the pudding is more and more rather than less and less “mental illness”.

In those instances where it is claimed a person has a “mental illness”, recovery, or a cure, if you will, is seen as out of the question. Of course, this is a relative statement. So called minor “mental disorders” lending themselves to effective treatment much more readily than major “mental disorders”. It work’s the other way, too. It is not unheard of for minor “disorders” to develop into major “disorders”, and then, well, we’ve once again hit the snag of poor prognoses.

I would say that this obsession is not a very healthy one. Were we to talk less about “mental health”, I feel certain that we as a nation would be less beset with what are sometimes referred to as “mental health issues”.  Were we to diagnose less of it, well, there you go. Already a cure is at hand. Problems demand solutions. When “mental health issues” are communication and situational problems, no amount of “medical treatment” nonsense is going to solve them.

“Mental Illness” The Industry

It’s an awkward position to be in. If you say one thing you offend one set of people, and if you say another thing you offend another set. Things are definitely not as simple as they were 20 years ago, and yet, at the same time, they are more simple.

Were I ambitious I’d be kissing the asses that would get me somewhere, but I’m not interested in advancing myself in the disability field. It is a field that I think, in itself, reflects much of the corruption in psychiatry, and psychiatry is corrupt through and through.

You’ve got people putting in as many hours, if not more, in the disability field than you do outside of the disability field, and when somebody puts in that kind of time and effort, that person isn’t disabled, literally.

The problem concerns what often tends to be the result of putting in all those hours. If it is more people calling themselves “disabled”, is that really a progressive and positive outcome? If it is a rapidly expanding “mental illness” industry, who needs it?

When we talk about mental health, usually we are talking about mental health treatment, and the people being treated are those labeled “mentally ill”. This makes mental health all about mental health treatment, and not about the absence of “mental illness”.

There are, for example, multiple strategies for prevention on the horizon, but only some of these strategies are actually preventative, some are causative. The thing folks like to downplay is the fact that before the psychiatrist enters the picture disease is conjecture.

Even when a diagnosis has been made, you’ve got psychiatrists calling diagnosis an art. Why is it an art? Simple. It’s not science. We haven’t got any bacteria, we haven’t got any viruses, we haven’t even got any lesions of the brain, but we have got diagnostic labels.

A symptom in psychiatry is an unwanted behavior. Check off enough unwanted behaviors from a list, and you can call the patterns of behavior you are looking at in a person a “Mental disorder”. Psychiatrists do so everyday of the week.

Diagnoses are fluid and subject to change. Normalcy, non-deviance, or mental health, is outside of the doctors domain of expertise and, therefore, outside of the doctors office. Doctors have labels, not cures. Medications manage, they don’t alleviate symptoms. entirely, and it is quite probable that they exasperate symptoms, that is, unwanted behaviors.

The mental health community is not synonymous with the community as a whole. It is this artificial barrier, this insular cushion, this parenthetic netherworld, this nouveau ghetto, borne of coercion, intolerance, prejudice and dependency, that is my locus of concern. I would like to see it shrink rather than expand.

I feel that this turning ill health into a growth industry is criminal and, as such, it should be prosecuted, not encouraged. Problem. The care and management of ‘lunatics’ began as a growth industry, and so it remains to this day. I suggest that perhaps a change in priorities would make much more sense.

The Adult Baby Sitting AKA Mental Health Treatment Business

Adult baby sitting is big business. It is a business that goes by the name of mental health treatment. For adult baby sitting to thrive there are  three requirements: 1. that some adults are assumed to be incapable of making decisions for themselves, 2. that this pseudo-child status is legislated into law, and 3. that other people are paid for assuming the role of responsible adult.

Oh, by the way, adult baby sitting is thriving. The adult baby sitting business is booming big time. The numbers of adult babies are growing very fast, as is, correspondingly, the numbers of adult baby sitters. Adult baby sitting is assured a great future. Looking at Number 2. above, for this pseudo-child status to be legislated into law, law that is actually in opposition to law,  you need another explanation for immaturity. Voila! Now we’ve got medicine, medical science, calling irresponsibility and deviance “disease”.

Medical expertise, where maturity is concerned, has been given  quasi-judicial powers. In fact, it is an alliance of medicine and law that allows for the practice of adult baby sitting on a wide scale basis. The letter of the law can be circumvented, when it comes to incarcerating a person in the adult baby pen, because a determination has been made by medical experts, upheld by judges, that adult behavioral immaturity is a matter of physical disease, and we have a law for containing people with said disease.

This confinement represents a quarantine without true contagion. There is a contagion, truly, but this contagion is a matter of 1. selling adult baby sitting, 2. job security, and 3.. manufacturing adult babies. What is really at work here is supply side economics. First you’ve got the demand for adult babies sitters to handle the supply of adult babies. This in turn generates a demand for more adult babies to fill the growing supply of adult baby sitters. They are out there, we just can’t let them slip through the cracks so to speak, can we?

This business is actually about, and always was about, prejudice, intolerance, and segregation. The old mental asylum represents a sort of nigger town for the mad. I know you’ve heard the slogan, “separate but equal”, well, separate by its nature usually means unequal, and if anything our treatment of the dementedly deviant segment of the population has been very inferior to that of our treatment of the non-deviant majority. The new community mental health system would change this equation ever so slightly by introducing the mental hospital/prison without walls.

Children are under pressure to grow up. Weaning a child from dependency on mama and daddy is what child-rearing is all about. If the child is slow (i.e. immature for its age), now we’ve got the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder tag to lay on the child. ADHD allows for more intensive child rearing. We’ve got baby baby sitting for those babies that are more stubborn in their babyishness than other babies. If only it was as simple as saying, “babies will be babies”. Well, actually, it is that simple.

The issue at hand concerns the adult babies who have not been caught, or, 75 % of the population. Arriving at 75 % involves, more or less, coupling the psychosis tags with the neurosis tags, that is, deviance as necessity with deviance as luxury. If we are honest with ourselves, we have to credit the psychiatric field, the drug industry, and the insurance business with a great deal of deception. This deception involves pushing bias as if it were proven fact. We don’t have illnesses here. We have adults treated like children. Change the expectation, and you change everything. Were we to treat adults like adults again, I think you’d begin to see a big improvement.