Monday, January 28, 2013

Where have all the fairies gone? The pathologising of unusual communication...

It is not useful to say in front of a child who hits other children, or a person who commits acts of road rage that they, ‘can’t help it. It’s a disease, the schizophrenia that that they have.’

Not only does this kind of excusing turn the label of schizophrenia into a banned pit-bull terrier, it allows the inexcusable behaviour to continue.

Parents don’t want to be ‘blamed’ for behaviour that is awry in their child. And they don’t have to be. Sometimes it takes children a period of adjusting to the world when, for some reason, there is sensory dysphonia ie sound is too loud. Sometimes it takes a while for a child to work out what is and isn’t dangerous, what is and isn’t okay in their society.

I do find the pathologising of unusual communication into ‘psychosis’ and ‘schizophrenia’ to be one of this centuries most terrible crimes against humanity.

Children often communicate in a symbolic way. When this becomes an anxiety for a parent the whole idea of communicating naturally becomes ‘stressed’ and often really traumatised.

I used to work as a fairy for children’s parties. In the 1990s there were many Fairy shops that existed in Melbourne and flourished, but they have mostly disappeared.

The fairy business was all about activating imagination. I would tell stories about my life as a fairy. How I shrunk small to get through a keyhole into fairyland and how I would create wishes through the thistle-down. And if the children saw thistle-down flying, they should catch it and make a wish and hopefully it would be able to make the long flight to Fairyland.

Telling stories for children like this isn’t ‘lying’ it is talking in symbology. Creating ideas that can act as metaphors to how the magic of the mind works. Making a wish, meant hope and creating hope for something to happen sometimes actualises ways of getting there, within the mind. This is the magic of theatre and roleplay and belief in something like wishing. It’s active imagination at a young age where belief in unusual things is okay, even encouraged, by most parents, because language and consensual reality isn’t fully realised. The concept of symbols are merged poetically with the clear and straight-forward language.

The children at the Fairy parties would tell me their stories of how they met with fairies in their garden. That imaginative part of them got heard. Their fascination with things that are small, but powerful was validated.

Occasionally children would want to test a reality. I had very long brightly coloured natural hair. Children would ask me if it was a wig and if they could ‘pull it.’ I told them that they shouldn’t pull my hair because that would hurt. And, they didn’t want to hurt the fairy, so they didn’t do that. They were just wondering what’s real and what’s fake.

Thinking about what is real and what is fake is very important in friendship. If another child is only going to pretend to be a friend when there’s something nice in the lunchbox, then they’re a fake. If a politician is going to create a whole lot of propaganda to justify invading a country that has surrendered all its weaponry, then a person has to work out if the propaganda makes sense when there’s other evidence to say that it was done for monetary gain and the 650,000 dead civilians of that country didn’t really deserve to be vilified and murdered.

Declaring war on ‘schizophrenia’ is another issue that people may want to recognise for its malicious intent. Effectively it is creating a war on someone’s attempt to communicate. Ignoring the symbology and paronmasia in what people say – just pathologising their communication as ‘ill,’ is horrible. So is the then treatment to manage this communication, that is, bombing that person’s body and mind with neuroleptics to make them submit. Shutting down their abilities, disabling their functioning, making them upset, confused, a ‘nothing’, a number in the doctor’s queue, sick, tired, sad, unacceptable, undesirable, obliterated… This is not a system for public health. This is abuse of people who communicate in an unusual way.

The freak out over a child’s eccentric way of expressing themselves and pathologising of this expression as a ‘disease,’ is  forgetting to ever allowing a child to explore art. When you pathologise, your child becomes a labrat. When you do this, not only are you showing anxiety over something that isn’t a problem, you are also trying to control the child’s expression. Ask yourself: What are you afraid of? Why do you have to be so controlling of their thoughts? Are you guilty of doing something to the child you don’t want others to know about? Is that why you have to blame the child and say they’re ‘diseased’? Do you understand how this behaviour of yours is abusive? (It is verbally abusive; and physically abusive when you drug the child. Committing this abuse also means you have less control of the child when they actually do something that really is wrong, like hit another child.)

There is a proliferation of videos on YouTube at the moment that I consider to be horrific. The parents video their children and label them ‘childhood schizophrenic’ like their child is some sort of medical side-show. This is so damaging. The rights of these children to privacy is violated and they are subjected to such horrific abuse when they attempt to communicate, plus they are drugged.

Admittedly I only watched one of these videos, but saw that there was a whole lot of others. I don’t have the stomach to watch more. It’s so sad seeing a child being abused. Even the withdrawal effects of the neuroleptic, of a young child that chewed a blanket until her teeth bled, were seen by the parent as the child’s ‘illness’ and reason for her to be on the drugs. Blame, blame, stupid misdirected blame.

So where have all the fairies gone? To psychiatrists, these days, is my guess.
Ange the seraph fairy and Grumble the raincloud by Initially NO

Friday, January 18, 2013

Where should $10 mil be spent in mental health?

I was asked to talk at Melbourne University for nursing students. One of the questions at the end of the session was, ‘If there was a grant given of $10 million for mental health, what should it be spent on?’

                There wasn’t time for me to answer as there was a panel of three other people with lived-experience answering. But I did have a notion of what I'd like to spend that money on. And as I travelled home I thought about this more...

                I would like an alternative to the psychiatric system. I would like drug-free, ECT-free safe houses to be established, as an option. I would like there to be people with lived-experience working in these houses and for there to be empathetic understanding Art Therapists available and someone trained in First Aid. I am not interested in being medicalised, marginalised and made redundant. I am interested in enabling people, not disabling them. That’s what I’d like these safe houses to be, a place where people can break-through their crisis, rather than be broken down through medical-based aversion therapy that is currently being forced on people. If people really do want to have brain-damage occur through ECT or neuroleptic drugs, then perhaps some people might argue, like people argue about euthanasia, that they should be assisted to do this harm to their body, if they wish it to happen, to enable potential release of endorphins that sometimes are released to help the body cope with pain. I never got endorphins on neuroleptics, I just felt almost brain-dead and if someone had offered me euthanasia I would’ve said, ‘Okay, do it.’ It made me feel that bad. I like to think. When my neurotransmitters were just down, I felt any capacity I had was gone.

                I also really appreciate the peer-support groups that organisations such as Voices Vic provide. I think this very new organisation is doing something very progressive for our society and deserves some funding.
Here's a blog about alternatives to the psychiatric mayhem and torture,  with much to say about safe houses and has given me the link to this video on such projects:
There's also the Recovery House that Ron Coleman and his wife Karen facilitate in Scotland.
Here's one video of the Soteria project, which was a safe house for people with 'schizophrenia' in the 1970s... Also there's further written info: on the Soteria project 

But really, there's not $10 mil to spend on mental health that hasn't already been given to the legalised drug dealers, drug pushers and drug enforcers. Someone pissed on their hand when they shook it with some official and the official thought the piss was pure gold. I think that's how psychiatrists continue to get their funding, because it just really doesn't make sense otherwise.