Archive for September, 2013


Am I Just Gullible?

What I don’t like about Szasz is his position that we are all entitled to take drugs.  It seems to me that this is a position that people would have good reasons for opposing, and I myself feel that his argument against institutional psychiatry, which I agree with, is undermined by his position on so-called recreational drug use.  We all know about ‘bad trips’ and I don’t know if bad trips would be eradicated if the supply were officially controlled and therefore ‘pure’.  I suppose no one else knows either, and that because of the effects of ‘bad trips’ it isn’t something that could be tested out on scientific research volunteers or paid people, the risks might be too great.  I do not feel as supported by his argument against institutional psychiatry as I would like to feel because of this.  I myself do not have a history of drug use, and cannot say that I know that people with such a history are not helped by psychiatric drugs.  I wish he did not take this position on recreational drugs.

I’ve also never really read or understood any Foucault, I just know he is a big name in French literature, philosophy and politics, and I’m only using those three classifications to make sure all my bases are covered, because to me he is just a name.  I have got a book of Essential Foucault from the library, though, which I intend to read soon, with my other reading.

Also I get confused at the moment because I am feeling more or less OK and that the only thing which is negative about my present existence is that I am having an injection every two weeks.  I do realise that people could say that I am feeling OK because of the injection and not in spite of it, but my feeling of OK is very limited, because I am a lot more inhibited than I was off medication, and hopeful that people in the hospital will see that I am really OK and don’t need to be on drugs.  I can more or less cope socially and feel that I could before as well, even if things could have been interpreted as being more painful.  There is an argument for saying that other things that break down are sent for repair and things added to them to make them work right, so why not me as a person?  But inwardly I am constantly so much hoping that I will be taken off medication, and I resent the abuses I experienced on other wards that led to the decision to restart medication.  Abuses like being told my problem with door slamming was all because of my mental illness, for instance.

I phoned Richard at Macmillan Close yesterday because I was sad it hadn’t worked out and wanted to tell him so and that I thought he had been really kind to me.  I’m sure it was an easier conversation by phone than it might have been face to face.

There are so many things that confuse me in the Bible.  I was just thinking that Paul says to submit to authority and to obey every law instituted among men for the Lord’s sake.  But Peter and the apostles were told not to preach anymore in the Name of Jesus and Peter told them they should obey the Lord and not men, and preached anyway and got flogged, and imprisoned, and an angel let him out in the dead of night.  I suppose again it is just a matter of confidence or of no confidence whichever of these church leaders give to any one of their people at any time, or opinion as to which they preach to a congregation.  Yet they say obey your leaders as if they really have a divine right.  You can only go so far in obeying your leaders.  Surely honesty recognises that their own denomination probably exists because they or someone before them did not obey a leader?

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Mish-Mash Musings 2

In my last post I wrote about how the Church, during the Inquisition, used to ‘relax’ people into the hands of the state so they could be burnt, and wrote about the parallel drawn by Thomas Szasz between this and the mental health movement.  He said that in a religious age ‘heretics’ were ‘relaxed’ into the hands of the state, but in the so-called enlightened age the parallel is that society turns to the mental health movement for the upholding of the dominant culture.  However, the Church is part of the society which does this, and does it itself.  So for the mental patient who is also a Christian, there is no ‘comfort’ for them in religion.  The mental health system is part of the new way of dealing with ‘heretics’ for the church.  The church believes in this, or says it does, and largely it accords the mental health system the same authority as the rest of society does, except for some people.  It might decide that some people are really not mentally ill and try to help them, but on the whole it validates the mental health system and its ideas.  So someone like me can become very isolated since the Church refers me back to the mental health services.  Admittedly I have not been to every existing church, but the ones that have been part of my life to date have all said the same thing, that they believe I am mentally ill, so accepting the categorisation in the first place.  Many other religious bodies do the same thing.  Scientology does not.  I have only recently discovered that Thomas Szasz had links with Scientology.  For some people this will put them off him, but there are others who hold the some of same views who do not have those links, the writers and editors of This Is Madness, for instance, and Foucault, and R D Laing.  R D Laing was ridiculed for turning to Buddhism, apparently.  I was told this by one of the nurses on Rowan 2, I think, and they said how ironic it was that the psychiatric system is itself now looking towards things like mindfulness as a way of raising people’s consciousness.  They wouldn’t call it raising people’s consciousness, but essentially that is what it is.

I’m not on Rowan 2 at the moment, I was transferred to Newark on Friday night. It is a place like Macmillan Close, complete with door slamming!  I’m not sure how I feel and I hope it is not a matter of my choice, because there are pros and cons with both.  I was told at 6.30 pm on Friday evening that the transfer was going to be made and that I had no right to refuse.  Steve, who was on duty, told me it was only temporary and that I am expected to go back some time this week, citing my housing situation and residence in Nottingham a a reason for me going back.  However, the staff in Newark are under the impression that I am here long term and that housing can be dealt with from here.  I’m confused and feel very disorientated.  I said I didn’t want to come because I don’t know Newark, and that seems to me a good reason at the moment.  I have been homeless 2 years now, Friday was the anniversary, and it can’t be good for me to keep being so uprooted.

Mish-Mash Musings

I’m not sure why I have called this Mish-Mash Musings except that I know where I am going to start but not where I am going to finish, which I suppose is OK if I’m not writing an essay but a blog entry, and not hoping to make Freshly Pressed (though I would love to).  I feel like trashing this already and starting again, but I never trash anything I write, so I’m afraid it rests.

The place I am going to start is with an incident I read about in a book called ‘The Manufacture of Madness’ By Thomas Szasz.  The book compares the mental health movement (his term, not mine) with the Inquisition.  It says that the two things are the same, in that first they decided what one was (heretic, witch, mentally ill person) then they went looking for them and treating them as their law allows/requires/demands.  With heretics and witches under the Inquisition he talks about the church ‘relaxing’ heretics out of its own hands into the hands of the law and legal process – a bit like the Jews did with Jesus, because they had no law to put a man to death (see also John 16:2, “Anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God”).

In psychiatry, if the psychiatrist says you are mentally ill and you say otherwise, it is said that you lack insight.  I know this and Thomas Szasz also says so.  He has us down as the people that are called paranoid schizophrenics.  This has definitely been my experience.  Under the Inquisition unrepentant heretics were burned alive, while those who changed their minds were strangled and then burned.  The incident a read about the other day talked about a man who, faced with the fire, said that he would convert himself to the faith of Jesus Christ, and that this was apparently a time of great rejoicing for the inquisitors, where the hugged him and welcomed him back into the arms of the church, then immediately afterwards they had him strangled and burnt.  Thomas Szasz draws the same parallel with psychiatry.  I’m not sure if Thomas Szasz wanted to see an end to all psychiatry or only the enforced kind, but he did say in this book that the inquisitors didn’t want too many heretics to be burnt whereas they shouldn’t have been burning any at all.  The Inquisition was torture, and Thomas Szasz says that so is psychiatry.  That has certainly been my experience.  He talks about having the idea of mental illness accepted by the popular mind, just as heresy used to be so feared and so treated/punished.  Both the Inquisition and psychiatry had two purposes, one for the protection of society and the other for the ‘good’ of the accused/patient.  By putting the word ‘good’ in inverted commas I am staying true to the message and spirit of the book, as well as owing the inverted commas as my own.

I have been reading quite a bit about Transactional Analysis as well.  I’ve read (again) Games People Play by Eric Berne MD, the founder of TA, and I’ve Just started reading I’m OK, You’re OK by Thomas A Harris MD.  Dr Harris points out in the opening pages of his book that not only do the words Parent, Adult, Child have different meanings from usual in this context, but so does the word OK, so I’m looking forward to reading this book to the end.  I didn’t read it when it first became popular because a Church I was in said the message was untrue to Christianity which says we all need redemption because we are not OK.  There is also a chapter in the book about this approach to human relationships in the context of morality, which is a chapter I am looking forward to reading.  Dr Harris advises against just dipping in or reading the end first as understanding is established and built on from beginning to end.

This Is Madness

I’ve read a bit more of this book and I’m finding it very interesting.  For me one of the most important things it says is that with physical illnesses diagnosis starts with something happening in the body and ends up with the diagnostic concept, but with ‘so-called’ mental illness it is the other way round, that it starts with a concept and mental conglomeration in the minds of physicians and they then go looking for people who fit the concept, like crusaders.  The concept is fleshed out in committee and applied to individuals, rather than subjective symptoms first being recognised in the individual and a remedy sought.  That is my memory of what was said in the chapter called ‘Diagnosis’.

I’ve just ordered another book as well called ‘Untrain Your Parrot’ by Elizabeth Hamilton.  It is a well grounded and often humorous approach to Zen.  The book is in the Multi-Faith room at the hospital but we are not allowed to take them out, and sometimes no one is there who can unlock the cabinet where the books are kept.  It makes sense that the books shouldn’t leave the room, it keeps them available and in good condition.  I have found that when I have spent time reading it in there I approach things in a better and lighter mood.  I’m looking forward to having my own copy because I think it is something that I will read and dip into more than once

I’m a lot more open and self-controlled on the ward these days, but I still feel angry, hurt and frustrated at what I see happening with other people.

I’ve got a bad cold at the moment.

We have started making approaches to accommodation.  It seems to me it could move either very quickly or more slowly than I would like.  I would like it to move quickly.

I’ve been reading a few ‘Freshly Pressed’ selections and really enjoying them.  They are so interesting.  I just read one called ‘There was no escaping his father’s words’ which made quite an impact on me.  It’s about a man who meets up in later life with his father who had told him that he was going from fad to fad and I felt those words from his father had partly shaped the man’s life.

I don’t feel able to write much more today.  I am generally feeling quite upset and that I need to cry.  That is what I usually feel inside.  I’ve had no intimacy for a very long time now, and I feel very much that I am getting old.  I am nearer death than birth.  For a wonderful period in my 30s I was unafraid, but now I feel a bit wobbly.  I’m not sure if I’m a real Christian, and I have been taught and believe that only Christians go to heaven.  I have not been taught to be a liberal, and my emotional attachments don’t really allow it.  I have been taught, and believe, that there is a hell for people who are not Christians.  I know to some people that will make me sound really archaic.  I have found myself praying that love and mercy will be my judge in the end, that love (God is love) will save me at death.  There is also the teaching that not everyone will die but Jesus will come back and some people who are living will be caught up to Heaven.  I suppose many people want to believe they will be among those who do not die.  I would like to live beyond 80, even to 100.  I’m afraid I will die much sooner.  I’m really afraid that I might go to hell, and I’m afraid that there will be no one who cares for me intimately when I die.  I have no children and no partner, and the only member of my family I am in contact with is my mother.  I would like not to feel so tired and worn out, and upset and vulnerable, and as if my time now is not worth anything and won’t be, that I have passed a point where there was a point.

Today I’m Going to Write About . . .

The feeling that I can’t write.  No, I’m not, I’m going to write about the fact that my head feels numb.  I should have taken procycledin but I didn’t because Tracy was on and I didn’t want to ask her.  Also I’ve had a glass of wine and I’m about to have another.

I’ve borrowed a book from the library called ‘This Is Madness’.  It’s a compilation by three young mental health professionals from the 90s.  It talks a bit about empiricism – ‘if it works, keep using it’, but that really it is about controlling behaviour on the ward rather than about sickness.  Talks about lobotomies and how neuroleptics (renamed anti-psychotics for political reasons) do the same thing and how they alter the brain.  I should think they also alter experience.  I feel very tired because I didn’t sleep much last night, until I played some Michael Mish on my mp3 player.  I fell asleep half way through but it was around 6 am by then, and people were beginning to move and slam doors.  I had an 11 am appointment which didn’t materialise until 1 pm.  Also it has been decided that doors should be locked at weekends as well as weekdays.  Terry came around saying time to lock up.  That was the first I knew of it.  At first I thought it must be Friday and I had made a mistake, then I thought maybe Terry wasn’t with it and he thought it was Friday when it was Saturday.  But no, we now have to lock up every day.  No rest days.

I’m censoring myself as I write today, because I think I’m being bitchy if I write what I have on my mind.  I’m going to uncensor myself.  I was thinking about Tracy and the time she said I wasn’t powerful enough to ‘have her job’, ie to cost her her job.  It was when we argued about what time the TV went off.  Although there is a notice up now saying 10.30 it often doesn’t happen then.  But it was her attitude, and her assumption that I’m ‘not powerful enough’.  I was told today that there was no reliable witness who saw me kicked so nothing was going to happen about it.  I’m wondering if it is in the same league.  I’m wondering if we are deemed not reliable because we are mental health patients.  If so that is definitely discrimination, isn’t it?

Tracy and Sharon both turn away from me and are nice to other people.  Tracy just ignores me, Sharon is rude to me, all the time.

I feel ill now whereas I didn’t so much before.  I have lost my alertness and sharpness, and a lot of it I can put down to emotional suppression.  I’m ever so tired, and I feel irritable.

I’m hoping I might be moving out of the hospital soon.  I’ve been told that unless I have lived in Nottingham for three years out of five I am not entitled to bid for housing but that I can go through the homelessness system.  If I do I’m hoping that will mean I will get at least a temporary flat and not get shoved in a hostel long term.  If so they have made a real mess of my life, if I end up being shoved in a hostel or B&B

Can’t Be Bothered

I can’t be bothered keeping up with everything, everything is too much of an effort.  I’m not helping myself, possibly, assuming that no one would want to be my friend.  I’m realising, I think and hope, that I have had plenty of opportunities to make friends away from the hospital with people who stop and talk to me, but I am afraid for when it goes further and gets complicated, not to mention even the first risks, because I feel as if I am unsure what being and having a friend is these days.  I’m not watching TV so it almost feels as if the things I have believed to be happening aren’t anymore because I’m not watching to see it.  Enough.

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