icarus image

icarus image
We are the same as plants, as trees,
as other people, as the rain that falls.
We consist of that which is around us;
we are the same as everything.
- Buddha

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

'imbalance' does not equal 'insane'!

People do not belong in grids and boxes of rootless lonely monocultures. Humans are adaptable creatures, and while a lot of people learn to adapt, some of us can’t handle the modern world no matter how many psych drugs or years of school or behavior modification programs we’ve been put through. Any realistic model of mental health has to begin by accepting that there is no standard model for a mind and that none of us are single units designed for convenience and efficiency. No matter how alienated you are by the world around you, no matter how out of step or depressed and discon­nected you might feel: you are not alone. Your life is supported by the lives of countless other beings, from the microbes in your eyelashes to the men who paved your street. The world is so much more complicated and beautiful than it appears on the surface.

Many of us out here feel the world with thin skin and heavy hearts, who get called 'crazy' because we’re too full of fire and pain, who knows that other worlds exist and aren’t comfortable in this version of reality. We’ve been busting up out of sidewalks and blooming all kind of misfit flowers for as long as people have been walking on this Earth. So many of us have access to secret layers of consciousness — you could think of us like dandelion roots that gather minerals from hidden layers of the soil that other plants don’t reach.

Some of us...if we’re lucky, share them with everyone on the surface – because we feel things stronger than the other people around us. We have visions about how things could be different, why they need to be different, and it’s painful to keep them silent. Sometimes we get called sick and sometimes we get called sacred, but no matter how they name us we are a vital part of making this planet whole.

The time has come to connect our underground roots and tell our buried stories, grow up strong and scatter our visions all over the patches of scarred and damaged soil in a society that is so desperately in need of change.

This change begins with the LANGUAGE we use in our every day lives! Yes, indeed it does. Instead of saying, "I'm down and depressed" try saying, "I feel I am down but I will do my best to be happy today." Try one word a day. Then try two. "I'm not 'bipolar', as they say, I just have an imbalance I have to balance out." Viola! Everyone has imbalances... whatever 'diagnoses' or 'disorders' they have brainwashed you to believe you have, are just imbalances (biological, psychological, social imbalances - holistic body approach). Your job, along with your trusted friend or alternative doctor, would be to pinpoint all your imbalances (in your whole body) and start from there. Because life throws us curve balls all the time! And it's easy to get out of kilter. All we have to do is find the balance and it may take time.

Yes, we do get out of balance when a love leaves us or when a marriage ends. We do get out of balance when we lose our loved ones or a job we've had for over 20 years! This is life! This is not a 'disorder'. This is the tough shit that happens... and for some sensitive souls it's too much to handle. We need time to grieve. Perhaps, we need a lifestyle change. We need to re-balance ourselves and take another look at what is really going on in this insane world... because after all, we are the same beings that we were born to be... it is the world around us that is changing...and getting more insane each day.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

do you see my reality doc? or just your's?

This article reminds me of the time I worked at a county mental health facility. I guess I had the gift in me because I always felt a kindred spirit connecting me with my patients; and so, I always engaged in their reality, no matter what they saw or heard. In my reality, I couldn’t see or hear what they were seeing or hearing, but my open-mind never doubted that they could be 100% accurate with their senses, as I was with mine. And so it was…I made my patients my friends by engaging in their realities…I bought cars through my dealer Oscar, had lunch in the meadow with Frieda, and saw the darkness of suicide through Sasha’s eyes. Their voices called out to me and through their eyes I saw their souls.

I wonder if therapists take the time to see their patients’ souls? After all, why are they called psychotherapists (psyche = soul, therapist)?? Do psychiatrists take the time?…those who proclaim they treat the souls…or do they just medicate the symptoms and never hear the patient talk?

Making Peace with Auditory Hallucinations
By Garry Cooper, from www.PsychotherapyNetworker.org March/April 2010

Recent trends in therapy, especially those emphasizing mindfulness, encourage clients to turn their attention toward, and accept, emotions or "parts" of themselves that may initially seem frightening. Although that approach isn't new—Gestalt therapy advocated this years ago—the prevailing view has been that encouraging psychotic people to acknowledge different aspects of them as real encourages splitting and further psychosis. Now a study by a team of British psychologists led by Jasmine Chin of the University of Surrey, reported in the March 2009 Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, suggests that instead of targeting schizophrenics' auditory hallucinations as symptoms to be eliminated, therapists should consider helping them develop a relationship with their voices.

It's a counterintuitive and controversial idea. Not only might this approach potentially support the psychotic symptom, but even Chin's study finds that most people who hear voices don't want to develop a further relationship with them. But want it or not, the study points out, people with auditory hallucinations already have a relationship with their voices, usually a difficult one, and they expend much time and energy trying to control them.

The study asked 10 psychotic people suffering considerable distress with their voices how they understood the relationship. Most personified their voices, assigning gender or names. (This urge was so strong that the few who didn't personify them fought the urge to do so). They usually experienced themselves as engaged in a struggle for power and control. "The voices magnify whatever it is I'm concerned about, or they'll comment on something I'm concerned about, which . . . often makes me more stressed than I was," one patient reported. But some voices served a potentially healthy function, reminding people they'd made good decisions in the past, or encouraging them to practice their social skills with the voices so they could go out into the world.

Along with these tangential supports for the notion of helping people with schizophrenia come into better relationships with their voices, Chin points out another reason. A study in the November 2004 Psychological Medicine, led by British psychologist Max Birchwood, found that people's relationships with their inner voices mirrored their social relationships with the external world, often reflecting their sense of being powerless and controlled by others. Chin speculates that when therapists, along with everyone else in schizophrenics' world, try to drive a wedge between them and their inner voices, it may actually reinforce this internalization of social stigma.

Richard Schwartz, the originator of Internal Family Systems Therapy, who's worked with nonpsychotic clients who hear voices, thinks there may be something to Chin's idea. "Once they realize that I'm neither afraid of nor pathologizing their voices," he says, "most clients are better able to relate to them from a less fearful and more curious, confident, and even compassionate place."

Saturday, April 3, 2010

our Human Right!

In reading Gianna's blog about her being frustrated, disappointed and angered by the left’s neglect of the human rights of those who have been psychiatrized, I've come to realize that I'm not alone!!

As Gianna, I also "tend not to emphasize my politics outside the political issues surrounding mental health because regardless of our political views outside of this issue, many of us come together here on this particular issue of human rights abuse and it would only divide us to concentrate on other political issues."  However, like her, I also cannot remain silent today about what seems like a major form of unconscious hypocrisy on the part of liberals and feminists who in general claim to be concerned about the human rights of all individuals but don't recognize that patients are the victims of torture and blatant disregard by society of their human and civil rights when it come to psychiatry.

Human rights belong to all of us. The right to be treated like a human being is our birthright and it does not matter if we call ourselves liberal, conservative, hindi, or bisexual. We should all have the right to say “no!” to coercive and forced “treatments” of any kinds. We also have the right to be told the truth by the media and other information outlets, including our doctors, and that is that recovery rates among those left unmedicated and supported in other ways are HIGHER than for people who are given drugs, especially neuroleptics (antipsychotics.) The truth also is that these drugs are horrible neuro-toxins that cause serious, sometimes life-threatening, metabolic issues, epilepsy, cardiac arrest, stroke, homicidal and suicidal ideation and action, massive weight gain, sexual dysfunction and the killing of our spirits among many other things. They also often cause additional psychiatric symptoms that then get blamed on the “underlying” psychiatric disorder rather than the drug.

For some of the facts surrounding these issues, listen to Robert Whitaker on Madness Radio whose next book looks at this reality—people given psych meds on the whole deteriorate over time–they do not improve AND those who are given support in other ways without long-term use of psychotropics do most often, make complete recoveries. His first book on the topic if you want a history of the dehumanization that is psychiatry: Mad In America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill.

Dr. Loren Mosher’s work at Soteria is where we can bare witness to the astronomically high rates of recovery among the “seriously mentally ill,” when they are treated as the traumatized human beings that they are rather than as a biological brain disorder that relegates them to being sub-human. For more of an in depth study of Soteria, read the book.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

mind your mind

Our mind is a goal machine. I remember applying to graduate school and thinking, “I’m going to get in and go.” I dreamt about packing my bags, saying my good-byes, taking the plane and flying across the country. Four months later, my acceptance letters came. I was happy but always knew I’d get in and go!

This is the direction I gave my mind and it carried it out. I had control over my situation by my mental attitude. When we lose control, we lose our direction. This has happened to me too. In order to stay positive, we must visualize and use positive wording in our daily life.

An exercise I do often is - I stand in front of my mirror during the morning, night and whenever I have a minute or two and say affirmations to myself. Below are some of my favorite affirmations that I say. While I say them I visualize a warm glowing light within bringing loving healing energy into my Being.

I am kind and loving, and I have a great deal to share with others.
I am a lovable & loving person. I am whole in myself.
I love myself & naturally attract loving relationships into my life.
I am now ready to accept a happy, fulfilling relationship.
I love myself completely as I am, and I’m getting better all the time.
I accept myself completely here and now.
I now feel inner peace & serenity.
(Thanks to Robert Snyder, Hypnotherapist for teaching me about the power of visualization.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

WWII Pacifists Exposed Mental Ward Horrors

Published: December 30, 2009

by Joseph Shapiro

In September of 1942, Warren Sawyer, a 23-year-old conscientious objector, reported for his volunteer assignment as an attendant at a state mental hospital. The young Quaker was one of thousands of pacifists who had refused to fight and instead were assigned to work in places few outsiders got to see — places like Philadelphia State Hospital, best known as Byberry.

"Byberry's the last stop on the bus here in Philadelphia," Sawyer recalls. "Any young man on the bus, other people knew that we were COs working at the hospital. And they'd make different kinds of remarks, supposedly talking to each other, but hoping that we hear. And you know: 'Yellowbellies, slackers.' "

Those slurs were harsh. But not nearly as harsh as what awaited the young men inside the gates of the chaotic and overcrowded hospital for people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities.

The young pacifists would be changed by what they saw in places like Byberry, and then become a force for change themselves.

Serving The Country At Home

Ten million men were drafted into the military during World War II. But more than 40,000 refused to go to war. These conscientious objectors came from more than 100 religions. But most were from the traditional peace churches: people from the Church of the Brethren, Mennonites and Quakers. Still, they wanted to serve their country. Many did serve in the military in noncombatant roles. Others did alternative service, like the 3,000 who were assigned to 62 state mental hospitals around the country.

"Well, I called them hellholes," says Sawyer. "Terribly overcrowded. All we did and all we could do was just custodial care. Because when you have three men taking care of 350 incontinent patients with everything all over the floor, feces and urine and all that kind of thing."

The smell got into his clothes and was so strong that even after he washed them, the smell lingered. "In the incontinent ward," he says, "it took a few weeks before you got used to eating supper with the smell all through your clothes and everything."

The "incontinent ward" was what the men called A Building. It was a large open room with a concrete slab for a floor. There were no chairs. There were no activities, no therapy, not even a radio to listen to. So hundreds of men — most of them naked — walked about aimlessly or hunched on the floor and huddled against the filthy bare walls.

Nearby was B Building; it was called the "violent ward" or the "death house," because angry men sometimes violently attacked one another. In one room, rows and rows of men were strapped and shackled to their bed frames.

Sawyer wrote frequent letters home, and those letters provide some of the best surviving historical record of the conditions in those grim wards and of the work of the conscientious objectors at Byberry.

"It was in B Building, the death house," he started in a letter written in September 1944 that explained one day of violence. "Due to the shortage of cuffs and straps and restraint locks that has prevailed in B Building for some time, one of the patients was able to get himself loose. He was a very dangerous fellow. He only had one cuff and strap on and he got out. He had a spoon that had been broken off at the end and was sharpened almost to a knife edge."

"After he was loose, he went to another patient and jabbed him in the side of the neck on top of his shoulder and drove the spoon down about one inch deep, just missing the jugular vein."

Testing Their Ideals

Sawyer is 89 now. He lives with his wife (who also worked as a volunteer at Byberry) in a Quaker retirement community, in Medford, N.J., outside Philadelphia.

Among Sawyer's neighbors are other former conscientious objectors, including Evert Bartholomew and his brother John, and Neil Hartman. In Sawyer's living room, they tell stories of the horrific conditions there. They talk about the young sailor who climbed to the top of a building and jumped off to commit suicide and of the time Sawyer made checkerboards for the patients but administrators took them away because they feared the thin boards could be used as weapons.

"Our work was to try to get attendants to realize these were ordinary people with a little problem and they needed help," says John Bartholomew.

Working in such a brutal and chaotic place tested the men's own ideals of nonviolence.

"But I found out there, the difference between violence and force," says Hartman, who at the time was a young Methodist. "We used force. We'd grab a man and we'd pin him. And then maybe get a nurse if we could to give him a shot. But we didn't use violence. And the difference was: It wasn't unusual next day for the patient to come around and thank us for not using violence when we could have."

There was lots of violence at Byberry. Many of the regular attendants were drunks who'd get fired at one state hospital and just move on to a job at the next. Some kept control by hitting patients with things like sawed-off broom handles or a rubber hose filled with buckshot.

Hartman says the patients came to appreciate the gentler manner of the conscientious objectors. "Cause they knew, the regular attendants, one of their tricks was to use a wet towel and put it around their neck and squeeze it. It, of course, choked them awful, but it didn't make any mark on them so no state inspector could catch up with them," he says.

Making A Lasting Impact

Still, the young pacifists worried that it wasn't enough simply to show kindness. With the end of the war nearing, the conscientious objectors soon would be gone, but they didn't want to leave behind a place where untrained and underpaid attendants ruled patients by brutality and violence.

So the conscientious objectors came up with a daring plan. Sawyer wrote about it in one of his letters home:

"We are working on a carefully laid out plan to blow this place open in two months," he wrote. In secret, they went to newspapers, with details of the scandal inside the institution. "If we COs do nothing about this place to improve it," Sawyer continued, "our stay here has been to no avail and we have accomplished nothing. Two other fellows and I are heading up this thing to launch a campaign and gather material."

One of those other fellows was a conscientious objector named Charlie Lord.

Today, Lord, 89, lives in another Quaker retirement community, this one in Tennessee. In the living room of his brick bungalow, he flips through old yellowed photographs. "Here's the original one. Here, 1946. This is the day room with dozens of naked men along the left wall."

At Byberry, Lord sneaked a small Agfa camera in his jacket pocket. It was the camera he'd borrowed to take on his honeymoon. But he'd dropped it in a lake and then felt he had to buy the damaged camera from his friend. Now he could use it to take pictures to show conditions in the A and B buildings.

When no one was watching, he'd quickly shoot a picture without even looking through the viewfinder. "I'd try to fill the frame," he says. "You know, not just have little people far away. I'd get up as close as I could. I was aware of composition. But the main thing was to show the truth."

Over a few months, Lord filled three rolls of film, with 36 exposures each. His pictures showed the truth, in black and white. In the past, reformers and journalists like Dorothea Dix and Nellie Bly sneaked into institutions and wrote exposes about the horrific conditions there.

But Lord was one of the first to ever expose institutions by using the power of photography. "I just thought this would show people what it was like. It's not, not somebody writing to describe something," he says. "They can use flowery words or you know, do whatever they want. But if the photograph is there, you can't deny it."

One of the first people to see the photographs was Eleanor Roosevelt, in September 1945. A meeting was arranged between Roosevelt — whose husband, President Franklin Roosevelt, had died just a few months before — and a couple of the conscientious objectors from Byberry. They brought along Lord's disturbing photos. But Roosevelt at first doubted them.

According to Steven Taylor, a professor of disability studies at Syracuse University, Roosevelt assumed these were photos from some institution in the South. She said she knew about those kinds of conditions in Mississippi or Alabama. When told that they had actually been taken at an institution in Philadelphia, Roosevelt then promised to support the reform campaign and wrote about what she'd seen to government health officials and journalists.

Going Public

Lord's photographs would have their biggest impact several months later, when they were published in Life magazine in May 1946.

Taylor says the images of thin, naked men lined against walls echoed some other disturbing images Americans had just seen. "The immediate reaction by many people to these photographs were that these look[ed] like the Nazi concentration camps. People could not believe that this was the way we treated people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities in our society," he says. "So it created a kind of mass uproar, nationally."

Of course, one can't equate the conditions in American mental hospitals back then — no matter how inhumane — with the extermination of more than 6 million Jews and others. In fact, among those killed by the Nazis were up to 250,000 people with disabilities. They were mainly people with mental illness and intellectual disability, the same disabilities as the people who lived at American institutions like Byberry.

Still, Taylor, who has written a new book about the World War II conscientious objectors called Acts of Conscience: World War II, Mental Institutions and Religious Objectors, says the photos punctured a national sense of American superiority.

"We saved the world. We stood for human rights; we condemned the Holocaust," he says. "America's confidence was soaring in the immediate post-World War II era. We were morally superior; we were militarily superior. And I think this was a stark reminder that America wasn't perfect. America had its shortcomings."

In postwar America, the country turned to righting those shortcomings. Conscientious objectors from Byberry started a national association that helped train and professionalize workers at state hospitals. And, most of all, they helped improve the lives of the vulnerable people who lived in those state institutions.

The COs from Byberry continued to work for social change, in political activism and in the jobs they chose.

Charlie Lord became a professional photographer and a social worker. The Bartholomew brothers both went into social work. John Bartholomew worked for a mental health group that moved people out of institutions and into small group homes.

Neal Hartman was a teacher. Warren Sawyer sold real estate and is proudest of the way he helped integrate neighborhoods.

Sawyer says what he saw at Byberry — and what he saw could be changed — fortified his dedication to work for human rights. His work at Byberry, he says "changed my life in terms of appreciation of people who are forgotten. It makes me want to make people aware of the many things that need to be done, that people need to be involved in doing things." Copyright 2010 National Public Radio

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

in the closet... THE FAKE IMAGE

are we in the 21st century?

i feel as though we are living in the 1600's or that i should be living in an other galaxy or future period... perhaps, the 25th century. my friend yelled at me for inviting him to my blog! yeah, i'm serious! can you believe it? i had a feeling this would happen... so i'm going to tell you why...

he needs a job and he doesn't want anyone to find out that he has been diagnosed with a certain 'disorder'! (by the way, that's what he calls it...) yes, he's IN THE CLOSET about it, as are thousands of people, maybe even millions of people world-wide, who are afraid to loose their jobs, their relationships, their 'positions' in society, their 'roles' in the community... so he, like all the rest, creates an IMAGE that he wants the outside world to perceive him as. how sad is that?

is it not a HUMAN RIGHT to be depressed because you broke up with a person you loved so dearly or because your mother was murdered last night? please comment below!!! can anyone tell you how you are feeling at those moments? is it not your HUMAN RIGHT to say, "I'm not well. I feel very sad and I cannot come to work because I'm depressed."? this applies to all psychological conditions, yet since the health insurance companies refuse to cover any expenses of this sort and refuse to cover the consumers, people avoid saying these truths because they are afraid of the consequences. this is the result when health insurance companies are run by lobbies who care more about their pockets than whether their neighbor dies. thus, DISCRIMINATION continues in the 'richest' country of the western world. and guess what? depression, as well as other 'mad' gifts are not 'DIS-ORDERS'!! they are NORMAL! and so are the other 1000s of DSM 'dis-orders' the 'know-it-all docs of the psyche' decided to label in their manual (DSM) to give themselves a higher paycheck. did you know that the label 'homosexual' was once in the DSM as a 'disorder'? yes, it was! imagine... how time changes books and thoughts... of medicine! it is normal to be 'mad', as normal as it is to be a 'homosexual' or a 'african-american' or a 'woman' or having 'blond' hair or a 'big' nose! it is just an other difference among us. why must we be all the same? aren't the differences the beauties that make this world wonderful?

what would the world be like without Newton, Lord Byron, Hemingway, Van Gogh, or Tchaikovsky? can you imagine movies without Robin Williams, Nicole Kidman, or Robert Downey Jr., T.V. without Roseanne Arnold, songs without Sting or Axl Rose? so many of these incredible people are discriminated against society. isn't time for a change? as women's rights needed to be changed by the feminist movement, african-american rights needed to be changed by the black movement, and homosexual rights needed to changed by the gay movement, so do HEALTH CARE RIGHTS need to be adjusted to accommodate all people without discriminating on what/who/when/where. it's a shame that people are AFRAID to talk and interact in peer groups, in social events, among their colleagues, etc. because they are fearful of loosing their job, or their fake IMAGE!!

think about it... is that what you live for? your FAKE IMAGE?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

my makeup, your makeup ... LABELS

Received an email from a friend telling me that the previous email ad I sent her yesterday was probably not related to her 'illness'. She claims to have CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome). I say 'claims', not because I don't believe her, but because there is no 'formal' diagnosis given to her yet, as far as I know. She is her own doctor and the symptoms she has are those of CFS. However since current research has no evidence of where this 'illness' or 'virus' or 'syndrome' or what-ever-you-want-to-call-it comes from, nor what the exact symptoms are, I cannot say with certainty that she has CFS. I do believe, though, that she has her own makeup, as do I, as do you, as does each one of us!

I say this because I AM SICK OF THE LABELS. The 'whoevers' or what-ever-you-want-to-call-them keep making up labels. As far as I know, all my friends, relatives, co-workers, and people I don't know, have about 3-5 labels!! "Hi, I'm Celine. I'm a 'vegan' 'ocd' 'bisexual' 'women' who just went through her third 'depression'." "Thank you for sharing Celine." "Hello, I'm Steve. I'm addicted to gambling and speeding. I can't control my appetite sometimes, so I guess I'm an 'over-eater'. Oh, and I collect a lot of stuff so my ex-girlfriend says I'm a 'hoarder'...I didn't know that was 'bad'." "Hello, Steve. Welcome."

So, you see what I'm saying... and this doesn't just happen in group therapy or AA meetings!! This is the regular conversation over lunch or when meeting someone at a party. And guess what guys...if you don't hear the lingo, listen carefully, you'll hear the 'under-lingo' and you'll diagnose the person next to you right away! It's instant eye-contact or non-eye-contact for 'secure' or 'insecure', for example. We all know that one. But do we? Do we rush to label? Are we right?

I used to think that I could read people inside out after reading so many psychology, sociology, cultural-anthropology books, and living around the world; then I began reading myself. It wasn't until then that I realized that what I did may not be exactly what I was feeling inside. I'm a pretty good actress. I can be polite if necessary, diplomat if required, rude if needed, and extremely cocky if desired...so if someone labeled me as 'polite' or 'rude' or 'cocky', s/he may be totally correct or totally incorrect.

In this same way, our current medical system labels us. You are feeling this, this and this...you are 'paranoid'!!! Take 'this' and come see me for ten minutes in two weeks! So, we get our label and believe it...because doctors are 'gods'... and we conform to taking the pharmaceuticals they prescribe to us after a ten minute conversation, and then, or course, become addicted to them. THIS IS ABSURD! Yet, so many of us have gone years and years of believing diagnosis that we've brain-washed ourselves and cannot get out of it, even if we are well! We are addicted to our diagnosis! We are addicted to our label! Without it, we would be lost. We wouldn't be able to identify ourselves.

Guess what folks? You are YOU! You are the unique YOU, who was born on ... at... time in... city/town/hill-top, under... with the genetic makeup of... father and ... mother and the previous 14-16 generations. So, basically, you are just your OWN MAKEUP. That's it. I'm my makeup. You're your makeup. We can sit around and talk about our commonalities all day... that's what friends are for!!! And that's what this Blog's about... OUR MAKEUP :)