RE: Psych.label bible mocked in London Times

Liberty (
Mon, 01 Dec 1997 02:35:07 -0500


At 11:13 PM 29/11/97 -0800, g. Nelson wrote:

>This is a standard argument I heard by the industry, particular the
>shrinks that want to lock more of us up.  This is the standard argument 
>used to force drugs on more people that don't want it.  What do YOU want?  
>Two sets of laws for our people? One for people with labels and another
>without?  I think people with labels are equally deserving their of full 
>rights (and obligations) as others - I did NOT say that people cannot 
>choose medication if they wanted it or felt it would help them.  I am
>100% pro-choice in this matter.
>What, the basic human truth that we have different experiences? Nonsense. 
>I ask you not to stereotype me. I am not part of "the industry". I have
>been an opponent and critic of "the industry" for a very long time.

It is not YOU - as a person - I am attacking.  I attack ideas, not people.

You may very well be genuinely interested in reform, but some of my worst
oppressors in the mental health system claimed to be "feminists",
"radicals" and "opposing the system".  They did this, as they collected
their $50,000 - $60,000 salaries, and tried to write me off from ever
earning a living.  I continue to suffer from extensive chronic PTSD as a
result of much of the 
pain and oppression the system wrung me through for a long time, and some 
of these ideas bring up the same oppression I experienced then.

>Indeed, I would not be living below poverty level at this time and
>absurdly underemployed were I able to overcome my ethical revulsion and
>actually participate in an industry whose main concerns are maintenance
>and control. Two sets of laws for people is what we currently have here. I
>cannot tell you how deeply I loathe the current system. 

I am glad we agree here.

>I am glad that you support universal access to health care. Here we have
>nothing like this. People die every day because they are unable to get
>adequate medical care. I quite agree with your criticisms of the medical
>model as a standard for understanding or treatment of mental illness. It
>is woefully inadequate. 

It is universal access to medicare that has kept some Canadians off
public assistance.  Even some of the most rabid conservatives here in
Canada, support the continuation of our universal medicare system.  This
is just one way that Canadian conservatives differ from U.S. conservatives.

>>I think as long as we EXPECT very LITTLE of people, we will GET very little.
>>If we believe people are irresponsible, incapable of working and unable to
>>decide about their own treatments, folks will BE irresponsible, incapable
>>(or unwilling) to work and unable to decide on their own treatments.

>Many mentally ill people I know recieve no public funds whatsoever but are
>forced to live very marginal existences because of their inability to work. 

I think many of them choose not to apply for public funds for the very
reasons I describe.  They are a trap.  Even if someone can live with that,
once the government pays benefits - they think they own you.  BUT even with
public assistance, most people would still live the very same marginal
existence as they did without public funding.  I am not holding my breath 
to see the day the government will ever raise benefit levels to something
people can live on.  My realistic and pragmatic answer to this is either 
work, or live on public assistance (and accept a very marginalized, 
government-controlled lifestyle).  These are your only choices, unless you
win a lottery or have rich relatives/friends that are willing to support you.

>They say and I agree with them, that the worst possible choice they
>could make is to get involved in the mental health system.

Sad, but true.

>Nevertheless, they are not able to function in the working world.

Until proper programming is set up to help people develop these skills,
they will always be wanting.  In Ontario, zero dollars were spent on
helping anybody with a so-called mental illness return to work.  With 
zero dollars spent to help such folks with difficulties returning to
self-sufficiency, it is no surprise that many of them do not.

>I've spent much of my life taking care of such people when they needed help. 
>I would like to see more options for them.

Me too.  I spent most of my afternoon comforting a friend of mine who
is ready to commit suicide, fed up with having difficulties getting off
welfare after three and a half years of being on it ... thinking there
is no end in sight to her plight. She doesn't have the psych label (yet)
to complicate her life further, but her plight as it is -- certainly bad. 

>I don't think we have a serious disagreement here except that you seem to 
>feel that everyone of these people can succeed in a free market economy.

With the proper help and supports, they can.

>I am simply agreeing with Wandering Bear because I *know* some folks need 
>help. Just not the sort of non-help that is available.

Definitely, my friend this afternoon is a fine example.  I offered to 
drive her to the crisis service, but she refused.  She told me she has
already re-written her will.  I intend to stop by her place again, early
tomorrow morning before I go to work, hopefully to get her in touch with
someone she might feel safe with for the day or so, until I can get her
some "light at the end of her tunnel", even if I have to pay the voc
rehab service myself to get her some immediate help. 

>Look, there are varying degrees of mental illness. I know people that sit 
>in hospitals saying, "Don't squeeze me, I'm an orange."

I would want to know what they are doing, what kinds of drugs were given 
to them to fry their brains to put them in such a state, or what kind of 
shock treatments they had.  As many of you probably know, nobody remains 
in a hospital for very long before they get drugged, shocked or put into
restraints.  I am dismayed at the number of "back wards" cases that get
produced as a result of these experiments.  I am also dismayed at my own
government for funding CIA experiments, where people were subjected to
high intensity shock treatments and brainwashing for many years - one
woman cannot remember anything that happened to her before the age of 26.
Both of the people blamed for these experiments were very active in the
NDP socialist movement here in Canada; one of them even ran as a candidate.
I mention this not to make any connections between the NDP and these
atrocities, but to show these are not functions of capitalism - but simply
functions of social control, and how some lives are valued less than others.

>and people who hold down high stress jobs quite successfully except that
>every 2 or 3 years they have a psychotic break and have to be placed in 5
>point restraints for a couple of weeks. Furthermore I love these people
>though the guy who thinks he's an orange is a bit difficult to relate to. 

I have a very high stress position as a CEO in a management consulting 
firm, which I own 60% of its shares. I spend approx. eighty hours a week
working, much of which includes networking, writing and developing new 
ideas for the business.  There is a lot of stress in the business, and
not all associates we've taken on were completely honest and ethical. The 
worst that has happened to me was a brief period last year when I tried to
commit suicide at work, but I was rescued - I have an internal support 
system built up.  I have people that would refuse to let me give up.  I
wish the mental health system would allow this to be available to all.

>Look, Liberty, if they have degrees or almost degrees they are not the 
>people I am talking about.

But these people are denied services, and written off in Ontario, as 
though they were as dysfunctional as the lady in the dumpster, etc. There 
are NO services for people with medium to high levels of functioning,
and the profession has done nothing to advocate to fill this gap.

>I am talking about the feral woman who lives in dumpsters on Queen Anne 
>Hill in Seattle or a guy I know who visually and aurally hallucinates 
>demons attacking him all day, every day.

I know, one of those fellows lived in a self-built "home" behind my office
one year - periodically stopping by to use the public washroom next door.
I think if somebody intervened early in his "career" as a homeless person
with mental illness, he may not be in the position he is in today.  What
I mean by "intervene" is providing the supports, providing alternatives
and ensuring an environment of control and safety for the people using 
the services provided.

>It's the central nervous system that gets fried with the drugs. I am *not* 
>saying that many people with these disorders can't work. They can and do 

That's good, then advocacy should be toward getting more $$ for this.

>What I am saying is that some of them cannot. 

I think there are sets of "gods" out there that have made it their living
to determine who can and who cannot do work.  I really don't think the
situation is cut and dry.  I simply object to the idea that if a few
folks cannot, then NO DOLLARS are provided for those than can and want to.
I think the focus should be on helping those that can, and using the $$ 
left over to the best benefit of others that need more help.

>I certainly can comment on it and will continue to. Do not try to silence
>me or make me out to be an enemy of mentally ill people who wish to be
>self sufficient.  It is ludicrous of you to do so.

I am not making YOU the enemy.  I do not know YOU or who YOU are, nor am
I technologically able to silence you.  You can post to this list, and
nobody can stop you from posting your views, nor would I want to - as you
have a right to express any views you wish.  

My views make people feel uncomfortable, simply because I do not buy into
the status quo, nor do I buy into the self-pity that unfortunately, many
of my peers have learned to do.  I suffer a great deal from my condition.
Try living with PTSD on a day-to-day basis, particularly during the early
days of my treatment when I often went home to punch my fist through glass
windows, punch holes in walls and scream for hours, cut myself, etc. I have
through therapy, learned more self-control and how to handle the experience
when I can feel its impending return ... I also learned practical ways 
through NLP to deal with the depression, which has cut my depression down
from six to eight months every year on average to less than a week three or
four times a year ... The difference is I pay the therapist privately, and
she works for ME, not the government, not an agency, not a doctor, but ME!
She spends some of her off-time researching PTSD, anxiety disorder, bipolar
affective disorder, etc. and learning how they impact on MY LIFE.

I can see a publicly funded medicare system directing funds only to people
on a fee for service and performance basis, which will enable more consumer
control, while they do not have to have a lot of money to spend.

I just get pissed off a lot at folks that make good salaries that do not
even try to help their "charges" do the same.  They even hate it more when
somebody they wrote off many years ago as being incapable of doing anything
suddenly starts to make three to four times as much money as they do ... 

I know one of the main voc rehab workers, who has managed to work her way 
to the position of executive director in one of the GTA mental health 
agencies, hates my guts because I constantly vote against any funding 
proposals or ideas she brings to the health board.  She was recently at a
meeting of hospital restructuring for our area, and she gives me these
dirty looks ... like, come on, she has taken the fact that I first
introduced myself to the group as being a partner and owner in a management
consulting company, and she hated me since. 

>Ya that's what they did here, too. They closed down the hospitals (there 
>were no labour unions for the psyc workers, just the AMA and powerful 
>lobbying efforts)

At this time, the unions have all went on strike so many times, I lost
count.  I am sure the hospital workers will try to join with some day of
action or other the provincial labour groups are planning.  I don't think
it will do any good, but I guess they have a right to protest.

>Trouble is Reagan cut off the funding to the community mental health 
>centers and they privatized services as much as possible. The services 
>control and maintain, they are not concerned with healing at all, they are 
>concerned with private profit. It's worse than it was before. 

I do think it is foolish to shut down the institutions without replacing
the support role in the community, but Ontario's community mental health
programs have been a cash cow since the former two governments and they
have sort of developed a bureaucracy of their own.  I would not want to
see some of the more important programs cut, but during the reign of the
NDP - many so-called community mental health centres that serve primarily
women, gay/lesbians, other special interests got funded, that do nothing
but advocacy for that specific group and do little mental health work.
This is good money that is being taken away from people in need.

>We do not need "special housing".  All we need is a door that locks, a 
>place that is in good repair, a roof that doesn't leak and a private 
>place to call our own.  Most people I know who are so-called consumers
>can and do live on their own, and those that are homeless have become
>that way primarily because they have been denied access to work and $$.
>Great paragraph. I could not agree more. That is what most people on 
>this list need.

I'm glad you agree here.

>It's more expensive to free people from reliance on govt. support and such 
>an agenda would not be in the interests of the people who own the boarding 
>houses, would it? These boarding homes (in which we place DD adults, the 
>elderly and the mentally ill) are one of the reasons I am opposed to 
>privatization of social services. 

I don't have anything against privatization in itself, so long as healthy
competition is maintained and some type of regulations are in place, to
keep operators from cutting corners on the people that live there.  The
operators in Ontario have been allowed to sign over residents' whole cheques,
until the government recently cracked down on that practice.

>>The marketplace will take care of these exploitive landlords, once we are
>>able to get people better access to their own financial resources to pay
>>to live wherever they want to live.  The slumlords will then have no takers,
>>and financial pressures alone will make them improve their offerings.
>No, I don't think so. Because the fact of the matter is that some people 
>are too elderly or too disabled to work. The market place is part of the
>problem, Liberty. I can see why you refuse to admit that some people 
>cannot work, though.

Elderly folks should be receiving a decent retirement pension with full
benefits.  Putting them in these homes is exploitive.  There is no excuse
to put a twenty-two year old or thirty year old, who should instead be
supported in the prime of their lives, on permanent disability unless they
are brain-dead or something, like the fellow who thinks he is an orange.
But then again, I would suspect more than mental illness is operating there.

>I would say that the owners and employees of these establishments are 
>directly responsible for these outrages and the referring agencies and 
>individuals are peripherally responsible, wouldn't you agree? I am 
>certain the law does. 

Definitely, but I seen many cases where the mental health workers 
responsible were promoted or given a better job in another department 
to deflect the controversy that arose from "work" they did in their jobs.
These people are still not being held responsible for the deaths, etc.

>So you are saying that paranoid schizophrenics hallucinate, form complex
>delusional systems and occasionally act out in violently because the 
>system neglects them and expects them to act in this way?

In part, yes. I know very few workers that will ever spend time with
people who have schizophrenia labels.  Many of the folks I know that
have borne that dreadful label have been segregated from society from
the word go, forced to live in dreadful conditions, often forced into
inappropriate and even dangerous treatments, etc.  One should wonder
if these experiences do indeed have an impact on a person, and how well
they function after being subjected to these things.  Add to this, the
constant gnawing idiocy of low expectations, stigma and isolation from
the so-called "normal" world.

>I am not denying you your experience, Liberty. I'm just saying that your
>experience is not the same as everyone's. In some ways, you are fortunate
>that you have been able to achieve this degree of freedom.

I had to fight for my freedom, some of it through the courts, some of it
through political channels and some of it by simply being persistent.  I
fought, Gwen, not because I am a radical, persistent protester, but I
fought because I truly believed I had no choice other than to fight, or
to simply die a slow, painful death where there was no hope, no incentive.

>I feel that you have fairly consistently demonized my position in your 
>post. It is particularly apparent to me in this case because the sorts of 
>positions and attitudes you are accusing me of are so diametrically at odds 
>with my actual stance.

Again, I am not demonizing YOU.  I am demonizing the system that allows
certain attitudes (not necessarily YOUR attitudes) to develop and persist,
and become translated into government policy, a.k.a. dollars spent on
babysitting, group homes, bingo games and other "social" activities for
people with mental health disabilities, as opposed to helping people secure
their freedoms, so folks don't have to go through the sh** I went through,
just so that I can have choices that are afforded to anybody else in society.

>My original intention in replying was point out that Wandering Bear made 
>some excellent points. I am not saying that you are wrong in what you say 
>(in many areas I quite agree with you), only that Wandering Bear also made 
>some excellent points which I also agree with. 

I guess I have a hard time communicating the fact that as long as the 
small percentage of very bad off cases are being depicted as the "norm"
for people with mental health disorders, the majority of us will not get
served.  I am stating the fact that virtually all of mental health 
dollars have been spent on the few very bad cases, neglecting the others
to the point where they too, can also develop worse conditions.

I am not trying to attack anybody in my posts.  In high school, I was
on the debating team and enjoyed the sport very much.  As an adult, I
lived through many experiences that have led me to have very strong
feelings about certain issues.  I always remember how hard it was where
I came from, and I certainly do not want to fight all over again to get
back to where I am, should I ever be in the need of any help again.

I think once folks been down this road, they begin to understand the
type of fear I am describing.  I would much prefer at this time to pay
some folks privately to help keep me level-headed, but the road from
where I was, to the road I am at now, I never want to repeat.

Thanks for clarifying your comments.


Liberty (Lillian)