Tag Archive: Foucault


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.

John 14

I’ve just read John Chapter 14.  It is full of ‘I am in the Father and the Father is in Me’, ‘I am in you and you are in Me’, and John 15, which I haven’t got to again yet, starts off with  ‘I am the true vine and My Father is the Gardener’.  It will go on to say that the disciples are the branches.  What struck me the most was the intimacy, like Jesus saying, ‘Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cos every little thing is gonna be alright’.  It makes me pine for the days I had not heard of boundaries, for the simplicity of full surrender, total security in Jesus.  I can’t remember if I’ve ever been taught that forgiveness from the heart is not a contract or a transaction.  The Bible says that from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks, yet we speak in terms of deliberate forgiveness of others for our own sake and not for theirs, as if the person being forgiven should not also be in our minds as someone who needs our act of forgiveness and who stands to benefit from it.

At the time of year that Jesus was crucified it was customary for a prisoner to be released.  The crowd was offered a choice between Jesus and Barabbas.  Barabbas was an insurrectionist, a revolutionary, it is said that he had killed people, but the crowd. in its manipulated and whipped up determination to be rid of Jesus, chose for Barabbas to be released instead of the Teacher and Healer and Forgiver of sins.  So supposedly Barabbas went free without penalty or any regard to boundaries.  Granted this was Pilate’s decision and not based in good theology.  So maybe this example falls down.

Part of the massive guilt I’ve felt about the way I tried to establish my personal boundaries in Church relationships when I had newly come across the concept has been that I felt at the beginning of that that in spiritual relationships it was different.  The Bible says act justly and love mercy (and walk humbly with your God), but we talk about forgive, but justice still has to be done.  Sometimes I want mercy without someone pursuing justice as they say they forgive, or talking about the consequences being distance and separation.  Certainly in Church relationships I have been afraid of making the wrong approaches in the wrong ways to people who are going to call me proud for seeking them out.  I want this inner crying to stop.  I don’t want to have to live with it for the rest of my life.

Love one another deeply, with a pure heart, fervently, it also says.  Does language like deeply and pure heart really allow for the insistence that love is first of all an action?  It could do, I suppose.  Maybe the action primes the pump.  But what if love, in sincerity, is first of all a feeling expressed in action?  You can tell I’m not a theologian, can’t you?  Or much of anything else.

I’m reading an introductory work to Foucault which has introduced me to the concept, in the chapter on madness, of knowledge as error.   Among other things Foucault was a hero to the antipsychiatry movement.   The writer, Gary Gutting, puts the word ‘creative’ in brackets before error.  It reminded me of the verse that says knowledge puffs up but love builds up.  1 Corinthians 13 says love never fails, although everything else will.

Anti-Psychiatry

I’m really embarrassed that, as someone who has never really believed in psychiatry, and as someone who lost her father to death by overdose at the age of 11, I have got to the age of 50 and never pursued the anti-psychiatry movement with any degree of commitment.

Although I am against the psychiatric view of people and their problems, I know that I am nervous of psychiatric patients and ex-psychiatric patients and don’t really want to spend time with them.

One of the reasons for this is that I think we are all too desperate, and in our own minds too undermined.  Most of the time we are grasping desperately, even at each other.

Another reason is that I think we develop a self-protective dishonesty, even if we didn’t have it before.  I’m not going in there in this post.

Another reason is that, in a structured group, the people running it, in my experience, are usually people who validate the psychiatric approach, or at least won’t speak against it.  For an angry and volatile anti-psychiatrist, like myself, that is not a good place to be.

Today I feel that my life has failed to mean anything, because I have failed to follow this in a committed way, when following it and investigating it properly was my obvious duty, as my father’s daughter.

I put ‘anti psychiatry’ into Google as a search term.  I’ve just started reading the first of the results that came up, the website www.antipsychiatry.org.  It looks as if it has some very well-written articles.

There is a whole school of thought behind this, from the 60s at least.  R D Laing I’ve known about for some time.  I didn’t know Foucault was one of them.

This might sound really selfish, but I feel really upset.  My life could have made so much more sense and been so much richer, if I had only known this before.  To me the obvious reason that I feel this way is that I feel I have something in common with these academics and might have grown up with them and in contact with them.  Obviously that doesn’t necessarily follow.  The feeling I have is, ‘oh no, not you.  I didn’t know you were into that.  Why didn’t you tell me?’, as if they knew me to tell me and I have always been a part of this community and I’ve got lost.  Or something.  I don’t know much about them anyway, I only know their names.  I don’t know why they seem to mean that much to me.  I never studied them adequately when they were part of my education, and they probably just represent this (supposedly) wonderful thing, education, to me, and the youthful ideal of education is what is invoked for me when I read or hear their names. 

What I am thinking, whether I like it or not, is that if I knew something about their lives, I might not be so keen to identify with them in their anti-psychiatric views and see them as the best proponents.  I don’t know anything about their lives.  Even if I did and didn’t like what I knew, that wouldn’t necessarily invalidate what they have to say.  People don’t like my life.  That might make me an embarrassment to my beliefs, or not, but in itself it doesn’t invalidate them.  Right beliefs are right beliefs, whoever holds them.  Like the belief that two and two make four doesn’t become untrue because of the life of the person who holds it.  And I have been taught two things about the universe, that it is both mathematical and moral.

Lady ‘hallelujah every time I cough or anything’ harassment upstairs has been on for the last half hour or so, latching onto my cough and my audio.  She’s doing my brain and my feelings in.  She’s savage.  I don’t know what I mean or what I’m talking about as long as this is going on.  I feel that maybe I never will again.  She is the nearest I have been to a demon and this is the nearest I have been to living with possession.  They frighten me so much.  It is so indecent and spiritually and psychologically violent, I feel beaten about the head just about all the time.  They combine violence and rejection and indecent invasion with a santa madre scenario.  Both at the same time I want to break down in totally reduced and beaten tears, and hit back.  They have been playing a locking and shutting doors game every time they hear me in the corridor recently.  She says ‘hallelujah’ when I cough.  What is wrong with this stupid moron?  Is she frightened of me or something?  Why can’t I cough and fart, etc, in peace, without this indecent and terrifying and desperation-inducing invasiveness?  I really can’t take it much more, and I wish some of these people who want me to think of them as friends (whether they are or not) would listen to me and help me and get me away from them.

I’m wondering if the idea is to make as much invasive and control-taking sound as they can, coming up to 10pm when everything is supposed to go silent, and then just shut up?

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