Tag Archive: Inquisition


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.

Advertisements

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.

WAGblog: Dum Spiro Spero

"While I breathe, I hope"

Emerging From The Dark Night

Working through the Dark Night of the Soul to emerge as me.

The Elephant in the Room

Writing about my experiences with: depression, anxiety, OCD and Aspergers

The Sir Letters

A Tale of Love

The Seeker's Dungeon

Troubling the Surf with the Ocean

Seroquel Nation

Onward and upward...

We are all in this together

it's gonna be okay.

my last nerve

psychology | psychiatry | neuroscience | n stuff

A Philosopher's Blog

A Philosopher's View of the World...assuming it exists.