Pat on Language

 

I hate that word "treatment."  It's been twisted ... by the system and perverted beyond recognition.  If they lock you up against your will, strip you literally and figuratively (of your rights) and force you into bondage and solitary confinement and then inject you with powerful and painful drugs, they call it "treatment."  In every other possible realm on earth, this is torture and not "treatment."  If they set a fifteen-minute appointment for you to renew your drugs every two weeks or month, they call that "treatment" and they can bill your insurance for payment.  I consider it fraud.

 

To be a mental patient is to participate in stupid groups that call themselves therapy -- music isn't music, it's therapy; volleyball isn't a sport, it's therapy; sewing is therapy; washing dishes is therapy.  Even the air that we breathe is therapy – called milieu. (Rae Unzicker-"To Be a Mental Patient")

 

Normal behaviors are NOT symptoms:

Normal people can have a bad day, an "off" week and even a "down" month.  However, if we exhibit those normal behaviors on the job, they get labeled and we are asked if we took our medications or if someone needs to call our shrink.  Everything we do gets viewed through a lens of pathology.

 

There is no such thing as a "side-effect":

There are only effects from taking drugs.  Some effects are desired and others are undesirable.  Calling something a "side-effect" obscures and minimizes the resultant pain, suffering and misery and in doing so, it discounts our experiences and perceptions and thus sets us up as less than we are.  It denies our reality. There are no such things as side effects – only effects, some of which we call "side" in order to avoid discussing them.  If a psychiatrist wants to trivialize your discomfort in an effort to urge you to be m ore compliant, he or she may refer to your discomfort as a mere "side-effect," as though it's not important.  Perhaps it isn't important to them but they should acknowledge its importance to you.

 

Sometimes, language is a matter of perspective.  A doctor may prescribe a medication that has a known 20% incidence of a negative reaction.  That is the raw data.  However, that same set of facts may constitute an unacceptable risk for the person for whom the medication is prescribed while it may be a very acceptable risk for the doctor sitting on his side of the desk.  Sometimes it matters which side of the desk you're on.

 

There is a problem with the word "trigger."  People use the word as if there is some particular precipitating cause that "triggers" us to go off like a discharging bullet.  It's very stigmatizing to believe that we are so volatile.  It's just as stigmatizing to not recognize that a "trigger" may be only the final straw in a series of mistreatments that have had a cumulative effect over hours, days, weeks, months or even years.

 

I believe it is wrong to call people "mentally ill."  I believe less and less in "mental illness."  There are no biochemical markers, no biological tests, no hard evidence at all, to "prove" the existence of "mental illness." Proof = demonstrate a reliable association between a clearly specified pattern of observables and other reliably measurable event(s) which operate as antecedents. (This is same level of proof used for TB, cancer, diabetes, etc.)  I don't believe that my thoughts, moods, feelings or emotions are a disease, disorder or illness.  They are me.  Cumulatively, they make up who and what I am as a person.  If I don't like them, I can either wait until they pass on their own or I can do something to change them.

 

People speak of "suffering" from "mental illness."  Actually, most of my "suffering" was at the hands of the helping professionals.  I've connected with many others who enjoyed their "manic" episodes or enjoyed the companionship of the voices.  Not all of us "suffer" and much of the "suffering" that does occur is due to the context placed on our thoughts, moods, feelings and emotions by society and the treatment system.

 

Many people get labeled as "mentally ill" when they are actually survivors of abuse, neglect or trauma.  This identification is discriminatory because it does nothing to mitigate the loss of the individual and it allows the perpetrator(s) or cause of the abuse, neglect or trauma to escape being labeled or identified as the source of the problem.  Likewise, we label individuals with diagnoses rather than labeling the sources of the problem.  For instance, it might change (for the better) the way society relates to people if instead we labeled the source of the problem.  We might then identify the true issue as poverty, joblessness, homelessness, etc.  It is important to identify the "true" issue so that we can direct our resources (and blame) in the proper direction.

 

Other language is just as pejorative.  No one has ever been healed by a diagnostic label but many have been harmed.  In fact, there are many labels that professionals consider quasi-diagnostic but that only serve the purpose of perjuring the person: treatment resistant, non-compliant, low-functioning, "borderline", etc.

 

Stigma (by Sylvia Caras, Ph.D.)

Stigma has to be adopted by the person to be shamed. 

It doesn't exist without the collusion of the target person.

The whole stigma, anti-stigma issue is primarily about marketing mental health services, shifting responsibility for a system in shambles from the system to the would be service user, who doesn't ask for help because of 'stigma.'  Mental health clients, just like the general public, have been convinced by the marketing.

 

More appropriate would be the words prejudice or discrimination, one legal, the other social but both are actionable.  Let's use these words instead and keep the system from coopting our language further.

 

Coercion – LACK OF CHOICE is the most common type of coercion. Often, the LACK OF CHOICE is combined with false info. That's why 3 year olds are being put on neuroleptics. That's a kind of coercion, too; the coercion of loving desperate parents who are pressured and tricked into poisoning their own child.

Quote from David Oaks email 8/10/07 personal correspondence

 

Mental Illness – There are no biochemical markers, no biological tests, no hard evidence at all, to "prove" the existence of "mental illness." Proof = demonstrate a reliable association between a clearly specified pattern of observables and other reliably measurable event(s) which operate as antecedents. (This is same level of proof used for TB, cancer, diabetes, etc.)

 

I don't believe my thoughts, moods, feelings or emotions are a disease, disorder or an illness.  For those who adhere to the "chemical imbalance" theory please respond to the following questions:

     Which of the neurotransmitting brain chemical(s) is it that is/are out of balance?

     What is the nature of the imbalance(s) -- Too much, too little?

     In what part(s) of the brain is/are these imbalances occurring?

     What is the formula for determining the baseline "normal" amount of the offending chemical(s), given one's gender, age, weight, etc, and where can I find it referenced?

(from email correspondence by John Ryan, 9-4-07)