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Book Notes About Radical Psychiatry
The Radical Therapist - Jerome Agel
Readings in Radical Psychiatry - Claude Steiner, ed
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|The Radical Therapist - Jerome Agel, 1971
I found this book in 1997 in a pile of discarded books in the psychology building at the U of Florida. The fact that the university professor was throwing this book away says a lot about how mainstream psychology professors have little interest in changing society, after all, it works very well for them.. They make a lot of money from people's problems and pain. If society were changed radically so as to produce and cause less pain and problems, a lot of psychologists would lose their jobs -- and their status as respected professionals and "experts." S. Hein
Entered my notes July 1999)
July 2007 note - Please also see my adaptation of this for something I will call "Teen Based Therapy".
Radical therapy starts from the awareness that therapy is a social and political event, and moves to the conviction that therapy systems- like many of this country's institutions- must be changed.
The current therapy perpetuates and legitimizes oppression.
The goal of radical therapy is to develop a therapy that serves the people & that traditional therapy has failed and has only helped the therapist, whose lives are comfortable. "Psychoanalysis serves a fancy, elite group and it is debatable if it even helps them."
Therapy reinforces and exemplifies the sexist practices of society.
New touchy-feely encounter groups help people become freer in themselves, but ignores social and political change.
1/3 of all therapy is commissioned by someone else - ex: govt, military, schools - thus the therapist's main allegiance is to their bosses
He says Thomas Szasz has written about this for years.
R.D.Laing says society systematically drives people out of their minds from childhood on and regards as normal dehumanized, mechanical and rigid patterns of destructive behavior.
The therapist allies himself with the status quo and thereby bolsters it.
Therapists turn their clients' focus from the society that "fucks them over" to their own problems.
Current therapy convinces the clients that they are the "sick" ones who need "treatment," rather than oppressed people who need to be liberated.
Therapy is change, not adjustment.
p xi of intro-
"When people are fucked over, other people should help them fight it, and then help them deal with their feelings."
"A struggle for mental health is bullshit unless it involves changing this society which turns us into machines, alienates us from one another and our work, and binds us into racist, sexist and imperialist practices."
"Radical therapists most precious, oppressive institutions: the nuclear family, the 40 hour work week, fee for service care, mental hospitals as they are now, treatment of children as property, professionalism and so on. This will be done."
"Roles impress us; skills serve us."
"Not all therapists are pigs. Many are well-intentioned people who have been trapped, like the rest of us, in a lousy system."
Current therapy "solutions" only to people who buy the system and want to maintain their place in it. p xii
[Evidently they had a journal for a while and the book is excerpts from it.'
p xvi "Expert as he may be at analyzing intrapersonal forces, he is often ignorant about forces controlling the larger society in which he lives."
"Therapy has become a means of social control."
The revolutionary spirit of the founders of therapy--Pinel, Freud, Reich- has been weeded out.
p xviii "Each human act is a social and moral statement. It then becomes which values we hold which come first."
The entire therapist training system makes change impossible. Barriers are created everywhere.
xix - Men and women must both be liberated from rigid sex stereotypes so they can develop their own potential.
"Deviance as a social diagnosis must not be confused with neurotic behavior."
[ie someone like me who doesn't conform and is possibly labeled a deviant, is not by default mentally ill.]
p xx - Therapists define what is appropriate and what is not, even while claiming to be disinterested.
They operate as forces for social control, weeding out deviants with the label of "mentally ill.
"Such therapy institutionalizes and stigmatizes all those whom society will not tolerate, numbs minds, tranquilizes and anti- depresses, electroshocks, disenfranchises, diagnoses, ostracizes, psychologizes and treats people as commodities and things."
"We must realize that many people called "mentally ill" have been [?] traumatized by our society, which creates and exacerbates emotional suffering."
The first article -
Radical Psychiatry Principles- by Claude Steiner
Psychiatry is the art of soul healing.
The practice of psychiatry, usurped by the medical profession, is in a sad state of array. Medicine has done nothing to improve it.
The client sees the therapist as an authority figure.
"The first principle of radical psychiatry is that, in the absence of oppression, human beings will, due to their basic nature or soul, which is preservative of themselves and their species, live in harmony with nature and each other."
"Oppression is the coercion by force or threats of force, and is the source of all human alienation." p 3
The condition of the human soul which makes soul healing necessary is alienation.
Another principle is that the alienated people have been "mystified and deceived." For example, deceived into believing that they are not oppressed or that there are good reasons for their oppression.
The result is that the person, instead of sensing his oppression and being angered by it, decides that his ill feelings are his own fault and his own responsibility.
Acceptance of this deception results in the person feeling alienated.
Then he gives the example of the young man who does not want to join the army, but is told to do so because it is "good for the country, good for his brothers and sisters, good for the children and even good for himself."
Then they give these two interesting formulas:
ie after becoming aware, one must make contact with others for support & unite against the oppression.
Then he cautions against uniting with people who are not aware, saying "this simply reinforces the status quo."
Awareness alone is not enough. In that case, one has largely liberated oneself independently [as I have done. And as Earl Nightengale has pointed out, one can remove oneself from the system through small acts of non-participation.]
The next article, by Michael Glenn, is a critique of the training process for therapists. Talks about how they must conform and play the game, but as a result of all the game playing they usually become part of the system for life. He calls it a Medean Shirt which cannot easily be removed once put on.
Says for psychiatrists to make their exorbitant income they must assume a mask of a responsible and omniscient doctor.
He says the system tyrannizes the young doctor in several ways, including making him think he is a physician, putting him in the role of observer rather than participant, making him seem/feel infallible, encouraging him to accept materialistic values as the true measure of his worth and estranging him from others.
Medical training supports the conventional values in society and thus supports the status quo.
The young doctor, he says, becomes a small entrepreneur and must behave correctly to fit in with the community. He then becomes a defender of the church, the family and the nation.
In the 19th century "physicians were often in the vanguard of social change, but now, comfortable and fat they challenge little and accept much." p 10
They like to hide behind the mystique of their profession as if they possess arcane secrets, and the public goes along with this and attributes to them all kinds of knowledge and power to them which they do not in reality possess.
And because all of this is a lie, it makes the profession ever paranoid, ever watchful, ever secretive. And of course they resent pressure to de-mystify.
Physicians and psychiatrists act to heal and patch up, not to challenge the system which sustains them.
He doesn't like the fact that psychiatrists have to go to medical school, saying they don't get enough training in human relationships, and he basically says most of what they learn in medical school is irrelevant.
He says that they are identifying too much with medical doctors.
He says psychiatrists have become society's cops, because they have the power to order people institutionalized and locked up.
He says the ideal therapist in training is "intelligent and afraid, indecisive and obsessional-- he can be made to feel inadequate and guilty with ease."
The trainees are disrespected and their opinions, ideas, comments and complaints often dismissed. They are told the system is okay, and if they have problems it must be them, not the system.
"A more thorough job of mystification and brainwashing was never achieved!"
Then he gives examples of how any dissent was crushed during his time as a trainee.
Trainees getting fired, etc.
He says residents were bribed by the enticement of making huge salaries when they left the program so they kept their mouths shut.
And that therapists are politically naive.
"They come through a professional education which gives them little understanding of social and political issues.
He says they are isolated in medical school and leave with the illusion that they are gods.
& they are "ignorant of their place in society; they are ignorant of what is going on in the real world; they are victims of a narrow horizon.
Then talks about how they go in to debt to finish their training, so they have even more incentive and necessity to make $$ when they leave.
"Going outside the system is a hardship. Only a few will take the risk and they can be easily isolated."
He doesn't like the partitioning of various disciplines such as psychiatrists and social workers; everyone should be trained equally and therapy is a discipline in itself.
"People should not grow wealthy from the suffering of the people."
Next article is also by Steiner.
He talks about getting people in to groups since that is required to overthrow the oppressive system and about problems with groups-- division within the group etc.
"The greatest single evil in mankind is the oppression of human being by human being."
Oppression ordinarily expresses itself in the form of hierarchical situations in which one person makes decisions for others.
Some people want to completely destroy hierarchies but he says if the group gets above about 8-10 people chances of that group's success without a hierarchy are low.
He says certain hierarchies are good for society-- the first is that between mother and child [not necessarily]
He says the problem is when that power-based relationship is extended beyond the period in which the child needs parental protection and when it is extended to large numbers of people (like in Military or church [but the church people seem to believe that they do need protection and only religion can save them from the devil or save them in the "afterlife," or from sin or atheists or whatever.]
Then he also talks about a hierarchy based on differences of skill and says that is good for society.
Some are humanizing and some are dehumanizing. The humanizing ones are 1) voluntary and 2) naturally self-dissolving
Example of when a person is in physical pain or incapacitated.
So the key is that all humane power-based relationships naturally disappear. The child eventually doesn't need the parent and gains his independence (in a healthy relationship) and the patient from the doctor and the apprentice from the master craftsman.
As human beings we have the choice between mindlessly extending natural human hierarchies to the point where they devour us, or equally as mindlessly leveling and abolishing them, or using our intelligence to create groups with humanizing, beneficial hierarchies when needed.
For a healthy relationship the leader must be responsive and responsible & available for criticism by group members.
He should also always be available for face to face discussions.
The good leader is one who "feels the impact of his actions and takes responsibility for them."
Responsibility is judged from the leaders previous actions and can only be ascertained over a period of time during which his work is open to scrutiny.
Next article is by Richard Kunnes "How to be a radical therapist"
p 28 some examples of little "subversive" things one can do, such as wear a political pin to work-- and he points out that in 1968 at Columbia University young psychiatry resident trainees were forbidden to wear McCarthy for President buttons.
Says women can wear slacks, men can refuse to wear ties, and wear blue jeans.
"When writing, to the degree possible, every word should be a guerilla theater in miniature."
So he tries to call attention to his non-conformity in many small ways.
He suggests that people "do anything to make an administration uptight."
Then suggests people "demand" this and that. He says to publicize your demands, do a sit in, call the press, call the wire services.
He says often just threatening to do this is enough to get a response and the response is always an advertisement for your politics.
"Even 5 people with large picket signs creates tremendous political presence."
During a recent convention a conference was disrupted by just 4 people but it was enough to make the European newspapers. [well, that is encouraging]
Set up a radial therapist table adjacent to your place of work.
Find out who has the power in your institution, ie who is making millions from it, and expose them.
Encourage people to go to Cuba to see real alternative and innovative services there.
Fight involuntary commitments to mental institutions without a trial.
Always help patients understand the political causes of their "symptoms" and suggest to them political settings in which to fight their oppression and alienation.
Help raise bail for political prisoners.
Encourage patients to talk to one another. Help them understand the collective nature of their symptoms. (p 32)
Start some petitions, he says they won't do much by themselves but asking people to sign them is a great way to start relevant conversations.
Take a prepared press release at any demonstration because you might be asked to be on radio or TV; suggests disrupting mental health conventions and seminars.
-- One reason to cause a disruption is to produce a laboratory of reality.
For example, many people in the audience will be far more enraged about a disruption to their meeting than to the war (referring to the Vietnam war).
The fact that one can respond more strongly to such a disruption than to genocide is measure of the sickness of our society.
p 35 next article
Radical Therapy Needs Revolutionary Theory Terry Kupers
He brings up point of what should the goal of therapy be: to merely help the patient move from what Freud called "hysterical misery to common unhappiness," ie to cope and adjust to society, or to empower the patient to directly challenge social systems which have contributed to his misery.
As long as the masses view reality in a distorted fashion, they will not see how their real interest can be served only by a revolution.
42,43 Talks about Marx's concept of alienation- the exploitation of workers in a capitalist society, but I didn't get much from the discussion.
He ends the article with a quote from Marx:
Philosophers have interpreted the world in various ways; the point however is to change it.
Next article is a letter from "C.B." who spent several years in mental institutions
Keywords: needs, contribution, motivation, fostering dependency (learned helplessness)
I have put two ** by passages I found especially important.
Today I am feeling broken as a human being and your letter made me think about the reason for this. Is it my illness creeping back again, or is it a result of the system which purports to "help" those who are ill? I feel less able to cope with the world than ever before.
To be snatched from a world in which you feel you have a place (no matter how small) and purpose (no matter how insignificant) to a hospital is a most jarring experience. ** People need to feel they are contributing to the environment in which they live. You are in a hospital to "get better" and that's the only purpose. It would be sufficient of the patients were given some responsibility to this end. In the hospital you must 1) get up in the morning (in some places even this is not required); 2) eat, if you want to, at specified times, the food is planned and prepared by others; 3) take your medicine which is handed out at specified times by a uniformed nurse; 4) attend activities, if there are any, that have purpose other than to keep you "occupied"; 5) go to bed.
It is a pretty dull existence in which everything you need is handed out in neat little packages--even the therapy-- ** not when you may need it the most, but again at specified times. I guess any institution needs to keep a schedule, but man, is it deadly for the patients. Pretty soon the patient looks around for some way to change the careful orderliness of the routine and soon finds out that if you cause enough ruckus you can get 1) a needle 2) in some places a straight jacket; 3) an isolation room; or 4) if the place is well staffed, someone to stay not less than three feet from you; or 5) sodium amytal which sort of puts you in a high which makes the place more bearable.
** What patients want is some recognition of themselves as individuals--even the routine of making a ruckus doesn't satisfy the need for being recognized and appreciated as individuals who may have something to contribute. So even this is unsatisfying after awhile.
In the hospital you learn that there are a very minimum number of things you must do to exist. This is the terrible message of the hospital. You don't even need to wash or brush your teeth. ** All motivation is drained, for your minimum needs will be taken care of for you. This attitude is carried with you when you leave. It doesn't really matter what you do or don't do.
On leaving the hospital there is the added problem of feeling guilty for not doing more...but it is already engrained in you that nothing is really essential. ** I guess what I am talking about is the fostering of dependencies of already tragically dependent people.
In the hospital the rewards for being "sick" are so much greater than the rewards for being "healthy."
[Then she talks about several hospitals]
Most of my time spent there was pacing the floors. ** Most of my time spent there was not knowing what to do to help myself get better. I was anxious to get help so I could return to the outside world as soon as possible, but there was no help. Only endless conferences about where I would be sent next. I was led to believe that I would be in the hospital only a short time, but the whole process dragged on for one month. One month is a long time for someone just to wait to get help.
This is the place which gave the most rewards for being sick--especially for acting out. For some reason which I still don't know, I was sent up to the floor with the more sick patients. There was more staff, more control, more medicine and few things you could take with you. Oh, yes, every time you changed wards your belongings were gone through with a fine toothed comb to see if you had any forbidden items. And you yourself were looked over. It seemed almost a challenge to smuggle in certain items. There was a feeling that you were a dangerous person, not to be trusted in the least bit. This certainly makes you want to give them what they expect--a wild unmanageable patient.
p 52 Every detail of your life was written down, even your bowl movements, and what's more you couldn't see what was written about you, nor could you know your "diagnosis." These things cater to the already sick person and his feelings about himself. For instance, the person who feels impulses to harm himself will feel even more inclined to carry out these ideas if he feels that other people are afraid that he will not be capable of stopping himself. He will carry out the expectations of others.
The prices there were exorbitant. My uncle refused to pay the bill and they sued my mother. She finally settled out of court. ** My illness was only fostered: why should I pay high prices for that? I was physically comfortable, with private rooms, and the meals were edible. That was all.
M____ State Hospital
At first I had to wear a state gown. [I wrote in the margin "Al" as I thought of seeing my brother in such places] ** I had not one thing of my own. Everything that was personally mine was taken away.
I felt so hopeless that I lay in bed for months getting up to smoke four cigarettes a day and to have shock treatments three times a week. I didn't even have enough will to feed myself, so I was fed by the staff. Not even one thing was expected of me-- not even to feed myself. There wasn't enough staff and what there was I wouldn't speak to, so they didn't bother to talk to me, though that might have helped eventually.
They didn't respect my feelings enough to tell me I was to start shock treatments. The morning after I arrived they herded me off to another building with all the other patients. I didn't even know where I was going. We waited, about 20 of us, while we went in one by one. It was only then that I knew I was to have ECT--quite a shock, literally and otherwise. This went on, I later figured out for ten weeks or more. Even after the shock treatments (it felt like the punishment I deserved) there was more lying around in bed with no one to speak to. Finally I came to one day and decided that (felt that) I wanted to right all of this. The only fight I knew was against myself and, there being a limited number of night staff, I was put into a straitjacket, more politely called a camisole. That was right after the usual needle of Thorazine--three of them in one night--which further fulfilled my wish for self-punishment.
So far I had received no other therapy than ECT. I really did feel that this was what I deserved. It's a punishment that dehumanizes you, but also a reward in that at least you are getting some sort of reaction. Again my things were combed over. I was stripped naked, notes were taken on scars and other identifying features, and again I was placed in a state gown. The ugliest things- worse than potato sacks. Finally I got my clothes back, and a therapist. He was a resident though, so that didn't last long. After he left I wasn't assigned another therapist. It seems the hospital had given up on me and I had given up too! I was shuffled from one meaningless activity to the next. One I remember was a rhythm band. We pounded on sticks or clappes for an hour each week. For most of us it was a most degrading experience--to have someone stand up in front of you and tell you to beat the sticks in time to some horrible march music.
Then someone decided I would be sent to the bag factory. For someone with a college degree to be sent to fold bags was degrading enough. Everyone around you hallucinating...but for all of this we were paid (if you worked hard enough) 5 dollars a month. I felt after a month or so working there that if that was all I was good for the rest of my life I'd rather not live it, so for the second time in that hospital I rebelled in the only way I knew how-against myself. I ended up in the infirmary and back on shock treatments--I don't know for how long. The one thing good about the place was that if you were well enough you could at least wander the grounds with another person. This brought me into contact with thousands of the world's forgotten people staying there. Most were obviously out of their minds and had spent a long time there and were fully institutionalized. I identified with them and feared that was my fate also. ** Everything was provided by the state. All their social activities were planned out and everywhere we went we were herded like cattle except in our "free" time on the grounds.
Most of the staff were condescending, though not physically or verbally abusive as in some other wards.
As I got better I was given the privilege of having coffee with them at which time I could listen to their problems. It had the effect of making me feel worthwhile in some sort of way. It helped bridge the gap between patient and staff and we became friends, on some sort of equal footing.
I was getting about thirty needles a week. Boy was I sore. That was real punishment! But I decided again that it must be what I deserved.
Being in a state hospital where the length of stay is only limited by your lifespan is a very depressing feeling, but even more depressing than that is getting so acclimated to being dependent and taken care of that you begin to look forward to the few activities that are available to you without a thought to the outside. Indeed it's rather frightening after being dependent for so long to think of making it on your own in the outside world. I know of only one or two people who have left and stayed out. Most who get out are back after a month or two, in worse shape than when they left. Something must be wrong with the system somewhere.
Eventually, I was well enough to look for a job on the outside, but I couldn't find one because the townspeople are afraid of anyone from the hospital. ** It is a very disheartening feeling to finally make the decision to return to the world only to be turned away.
[She goes on to talk about another place where she was dehumanized and humiliated, being yelled at, pushed around and stripped to the waist with men around, for example.]
I went to B___ in a paddy wagon with the men in little white coats (I never really thought they existed...) and a police escort. It made me really mad because as upset as I was I think I could have gone with a friend and admitted myself instead of being committed.** That is really a rotten feeling to feel that you have been put in an institution against your will without being able to get out. I was lucky to have only been there three days, but even those left an imprint on me.
[The next place she went to she says was "going in the right direction." She says the "emphasis was on feelings." They were given more responsibility - to make their own lunches, for example....]
We were not treated as dangerous or helpless individuals... P 57
pp 57, 58
** Therapy is change not adjustment. This I think is the basic idea of the clinic. The idea is not to quickly patch up an individual so he may return to a job or whatever, but to make him content with himself and free to express himself creatively...
P.S. The night I wrote this I stayed up all night. I had no emotion while writing this till the next day when I became upset and was urged to go to the clinic. I showed them what I had written. My doctor believed it was good and that copies should be made to give to the administrators of the clinic. One of the administrators read it the next day. His reaction was completely different--he was defensive and thought that the feelings I expressed were just written by a sick person. He kept asking, in a very "professional" noninvolved tone, what I had done to make myself more independent. It was a real put-down. I felt angry and depressed until I started to realize that it was his problem and not mine...
His reaction was just what I have been talking about -the condescending attitude of professional workers.
[And I would add the invalidation.]
Next article --
Madness and Morality - Morton Schatzman
p. 67 says Pinel was around 1800
p 70 Mental hospitals like prisons confine deviant persons, but they confuse their inmates more, since they do not tell them what rules they have broken, nor even that they have broken rules.
The psychiatrist in order to "frame his activities in a medical model" calls a trial an "examination," a judgment; a "diagnosis;" a sentence, a "disposition," and correction [punishment], "treatment."
He says "one must admire the ingenuity of the psychiatrist," for example when the patient disagrees with the doctor about his "illness," the doctor "does not tell that he should not disagree, but that he does not know and the reason he does not know is because he is ill."
So when a person says "I am not crazy" this is just more evidence in the psychiatrists eyes that they are crazy.
Then he tells story of a man in NATO was in the chain of command to one day push the nuclear button. This man disobeyed some orders and told his superiors that they should not order another man to do the things they were ordering him to do. They had him hospitalized.
"Mental hospitals regulate the behavior and the biochemistry of their inmates to a degree unequaled elsewhere in the "free" world." And this is why patients rebel and resist. Young psychiatry trainees are taught to see all their attempts at resistance as symptoms of their illness and to say they have "personality disorders" if they make problems for others by defying the authority of the hospital or of society."
In other, other words the author makes the point that they are taught to take no responsibility for the fact that they are interfering in the "patients" lives and thereby provoking their rebellion, or at least contributing greatly to it.
When young doctors argue in support of their patients at staff meetings, the author says he has heard teachers tell them that they haven't "worked through their own adolescent personality crises."
Quotes (without citing) Wittgenstein who talked of the "bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language... A picture held us captive and we could not get outside it, for it lay in our language and language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably."
Quotes R.D. Laing:
"It has been abundantly shown in the field of ethology, that observations on the behavior of animals in captivity tell us nothing reliable about their behavior in their own natural setting."
The power to confine people in hospitals, involuntarily if necessary, deprive them of civil liberties, define their limits of legal redress and award to their medical governors license to formulate and exercise rules to regulate their management and treatment derives by the state and is guaranteed by the law.
Then he gives an example of a person who was raised in a religious environment and was psychologically abused by his mother but the doctors don't concern themselves with these facts. They simply tell him he is crazy. The more he protests, the more drugs they put him on, and when he resists the drugs, they give him electric shocks.
Patients who don't trust their doctors are told by the nurses that they should trust the doctors, so the patient is left with no one to confide his fears in. The more he mistrusts everyone, the more crazy he is said to be and the more they try to force their "help" upon him.
p 77 Mental hospitals entangle all their patients in knots which are so constructed as to tighten when the patient struggles to free himself.
Then the article talks about Kingsley Hall in London, an alternative, anti-psychiatry center which gives the patients much more freedom and validates them and supports them wherever they are in their regression or growth. It breaks down the barriers between patients and staff to the point that visitors often guess incorrectly as to which is which.
p 80 Quote from R.D. Laing's The Politics of Experience:
Mary Barnes approached R.D Laing before he had started Kingsley Hall. He told her to hold on till he found a place where he could to what he wanted to do. She did; she waited about a year and a half, then joined him there. [This helps inspire me to create a place worth waiting for- a place where people can explore their inner-selves, their feelings, their beliefs, their language]
p 92 - referring to the people at Kingsley Hall:
People make pledges and dissolve them by an initiative that originates within themselves.
Referring to one person who was causing problems for others and frightening them:
"We found, by frequently confronting him with our feelings toward him we could cool the intensity of the situation..." p 95
A resident said:
The problem is for each to discover some inner need, and to find a way to trust it. In honor of this Kingsley Hall is a place where some may encounter selves long forgotten or distorted.
Interview with Joe Berke (A guy who worked with R.D. Laing)
He talks about how labeling people as schizophrenics, etc. invalidates them in "their own life-styles and their life experience" by having such terms applied to them.
He says "Insanity is a social rather than personal fact. Experiences which are considered "normal" in a one culture or subculture may be defined as "mad" in another. Insanity is synonymous with behavior or experience that is "unacceptable" within a given cultural framework."
1) The way people are normally treated doesn't alleviate their suffering, but usually perpetuates it.
2) Doctors act as societal trustees in order to maintain conventional behavior
3) The treatment that is given is a kind of "emotional straightjacket."
4) Psychologists usually get people to forget what is bothering them rather than come to terms with it.
He says "I don't think you can be paranoid enough about how psychiatrists function and how mental institutions deal with people." p 99
He recommends book Asylum, by Erving Goffman. In it the author says the institutions perpetuate the same "crazy" family systems which drove the patient "mad" in the first place.
In mental institutions he finds "the same kinds of patterns which have invalidated him in the family."
p 100 Berke says of the factors which lead to social and personal invalidation: ** "The first thing to find out is, what is this person feeling, what is this insanity that the person is worried about. Involved in this is the question of semantics. A great deal of invalidation comes about because people are semantically invalidating themselves" by labeling themselves with "emotionally loaded" terms such as insane, schizophrenic, etc.
** Because insanity is a social and cultural definition, a textbook definition; it doesn't explain or even express whatever the person is feeling. He says it is easy for someone to read a psychology textbook and believe he is crazy, since practically everything it talks about is experienced by "normal" people. He says "the point is, there's no such thing as normal." p 100
He says the key to treatment is to "create an ambiance whereby people can look at what their suffering all about, and make it intelligible to themselves. Suffering is intolerable when it is intelligible.
It doesn't disappear when it becomes intelligible, but it usually becomes tolerable. It allows one to try to get at the root of what it's all about.
p 101 He says there is no chemical basis for schizophrenia.
p 102 Next he talks about the history of how psychiatry formed. How they used to think "crazy" people were possessed by demons, devils, etc. [ie more dysfunctional religious BS] Then around 1700 Phillipe Pinel said these people aren't possessed, they are sick. So society slowly stopped treating them as "bad" people and more like sick people. He said society usually says madness is a moral issue, so this helped change the public perception. [** The masses of people, like always, have no idea what is really going on- they can't see cause and effect relationships-they would rather believe some crap from some religious nut-it is easier than trying to figure out what is really happening, and it helps them feel superior and "normal." Well, I guess the masses do make up the norm, but the norm holds society back, the abnormal move it forward.]
Then the medical people started looking for medical problems and using medical technology-- they started dissecting brains, for example, and analyzing brain chemicals, urine samples, etc.
p 104 ** "I never met a "schizophrenic." Since I don't chose to attribute certain things to people by using this word, it really doesn't have much meaning for me. (labels) [this sentence brought tears to my eyes]
He says "schizoid" really just means a split between the mind and the body; between intellect and emotions, [so nearly everyone is schizoid to some degree, or not integrated- ie disintegrated]
p 104 "We are up against a whole society that is systematically driving its members mad."
"Individuals might believe that the problem is in themselves, but it isn't. It is a social problem which is experienced at an individual level."
"This is the reason we shouldn't try to perpetuate the individual suffering, to try to trick the individual people into thinking something is wrong with themselves."
p 105 Talks about Mary Barnes who they let re-enact her infancy and childhood so she could move through it in a more positive way the second time. Says it was very helpful to her. ie they validated her where she was and helped her grow through her various stages. They didn't label her and put her on drugs and in straight jackets.
He says that regression, going back into oneself, can be very healing.
He says regression is a person's attempt at natural self-healing.
"Our work and what we consider the "proper" work of the therapist, is to help a person along the road to his disintegrative experience..." then to help them re-integrate, letting the breakdown and the recovery occur without interference.
"Then the return trip-the integrative phase- will be a very healing experienced."
But psych hospitals as they are now "stop this healing process from happening because of their own fears about what is happening."
He wrote a book with her called "Mary Barnes: Two Accounts of a Journey Through Madness" which was supposed to be published by Harcourt Brace ... in 1972.
Next article is a short manifesto from the "Insane Liberation Front"
It says basically the same things as the rest of the book, then lists some "demands" (but I don't know who is going to meet these demands!) I don't like this idea of "demands." Anyhow, here they are in summary form:
1. End to mental institutions, oppression, electric shock treatment, drugs, restrictions to communicate with outside world
2. All people imprisoned in mental hospitals be immediately freed.
3. The establishment of neighborhood freakout centers (run by non-professionals who don't act so superior)
4. And end to mental commitments.
5. End to the practice of psychiatry.
6. End to economic discrimination towards people with psych history & destruction of their psych records.
7. End to intolerance against people who are different and education for people to fight such intolerance.
8. End to the capitalistic system with its racist, sexist oppression and competitive, antihuman standards.
9. Right to the integrity of our bodies in all their functions; that antisuicide laws be wiped off the books.
Skipped a lot of the articles from the section on Women, but found these bits:
From Nadine Miller's letter to her psychiatrist
"I cannot function as a human being when I am constantly being knocked down."
"Men define what is crazy and what is not crazy.."
Next article --
Consciousness Raising and Intuition
We always stay in touch with our feelings.
Our feelings (emotions) revolve around our perceptions of our self- interest.
We assume that our feelings are telling us something from which we can learn... that our feelings mean something worth analyzing... that our feelings are saying something political, something reflecting fear that something bad will happen to us or hope, desire, knowledge that something good will happen.
Feelings aren't something we assume ahead of time that we should be on top of or underneath. Feelings are something that, at first anyway, we are with that is, we examine and try to understand before we decide it's the kind of feeling to stay on top if (that is, control, stifle, stop) or the kind of feeling to be underneath (that is, let ourselves go with, let it lead us into something new and better...at first to a new and better idea of where we want to go and then to action which might help us get there).
Now male culture assumes that feelings are something that people should stay on top of and puts women down for being led by their feelings (being underneath them).
Now we're saying that women have all along been generally in touch with their feelings (rather than underneath them) and that their being in touch with their feelings has been their greatest strength, historically and for the future. We have been so in touch with our feelings, as a matter of fact, that we have used our feelings as our best available weapon...hysterics, whining, bitching, etc....given that our best form of defense against those with power to control our lives was their feelings toward us, sexual and otherwise, feelings which they always tried to fight in themselves.
We're saying that for most of history sex was, in fact, both our undoing and our only possible weapon of self-defense and self- assertion (aggression).
We're saying that when we had hysterical fits, when we took things "too" personally, that we weren't underneath our feeling but responding with our feelings correctly to a given situation of injustice. I saw correctly because at that time in history (and maybe even still) by first feeling and then revealing our emotions we were acting in the best strategical manner. And this may be the reason we learned how to be so in touch with our feelings to begin with.
In our groups, let's follow our feelings. Our feelings will lead to ideas and then to actions.
Our feelings will lead us to theory, our theory will lead us to our action, our feelings about that action to a new theory and then to new action.
Mothers of the Millennium - Judith Brownfs
"When we have thrown off our oppression, some of our behavior will cease."
Lesbianism - Martha Shelly
"It is generally accepted that America is a "sick society." There is an inevitable corollary to this statement, which has not been generally accepted: that people within our society are all crippled by virtue of being forced to conform to certain norms.
"A woman who is totally independent of men--who obtains love, sex and self-esteem from other women-- is a terrible threat to male supremacy. She doesn't need them, and therefore they have very little power over her."
[kw: independence. Beyond this though, is that a person who is not dependent on anyone else for approval, self-esteem, love or sex allows no one to have psychological power over them and thus threatens all power structures.]
Another article talks about Steiner's idea of "permission and protection" -- very good model. ie giving someone permission to say whatever, do whatever, then giving them protection from others.
Aggression in Women- Shirley Bernard
She mentions Franz Fanon who says colonized people always take their aggression out on each other first. (that is why kids fight each other, rather than their parents or the police or the school principals) [interesting how parents, police, principal and power all start with p]
Talking about comparison between women and colonized people on page 189
"Yet an analysis of the colonized people presents clear analogies to the condition of women. Colonized peoples are trained to think of themselves as inhabiting a world made up of two different species: the settlers and the natives. The settlers ascribe to themselves all positive values and inventions: courage, leadership, creativity, "higher" religions, logic, inventions, art, technology, etc. To the native is ascribed passivity, emotionality, witchcraft, intuition, depravity, stupidity, timorousness, cunning, etc. Even so are the two species of our world divided."
In our society the analogue is male and female. According to Sherriff's study, and others, men are rated higher than women on most positive traits and values, by both men and women. This concurrence in the belief by both groups in their respective superiority or inferiority is observed by Fanon as the ultimate end of colonization. "In the colonial context the settler only ends his work of breaking in the native when the latter admits loudly and intelligibly the supremacy of the white man's values." p 189
Next article is titled "Offing Piggery in Women's Groups"!
Next section is on "community and society"-- not much was of interest to me, but found on page 213 Jim Stagman talks about the many levels of oppression in society. He says often the minimal use of force is most effective, with the "best" form of oppresion the internalization of beliefs through education, social workers. psychologists, etc. But he forgets one of biggest: religion.
He calls the social worker, the psychiatrist, the educator "soft police."
Says mental health programs in urban centers serve to "mystify and mollify justifiable outrage." p 213
p 214 says "...social action, if it is to succeed, means militancy..." [an example of the kind of thinking that I don't like about the book]
p 215 says ghettos are a result of oppression and racism
Then he makes the point that social programs which are funded by government agencies and corporations can't really do much to change the system or their funding will be cut off, directors fired, etc.
He says "Thus, despite the honest intent of the staff, such programs have built into their structure a brake upon their effectiveness." p 215
p 216 talks about concept of being "co-opted" -- says it is when people in power "attempt to defuse potentially explosive opponents by incorporating them into the structure of the organization, of the system, which they oppose and inducing them to identify with and subject themselves to, the rewards and punishments which the organization bestows."
p 217 He says when people are oppressed, for the therapist to focus on the individual problems of mental health is to divert energy from the primary task, that of liberation.
"To convince an individual in a oppressed community that the root of his problem is intrapsychic is to mystify him, pacify his legitimate and healthy anger..." p 217
Next article is my favorite in the whole book:
Number Nine: Creating a Counter-Institution, by Dennis Jaffe
It is about the creation of an alternative helping center for young people.
Keywords- helping center, feelings, rights, leadership, staffing
"First, we had to make sure the young people knew we were on their side, because they had a massive mistrust of their parents, teachers and government." [again this article leaves out religion] p 220
He says the young people were "introspective, idealistic, self-critical and demanded more honesty from adults who wished to work with them."
So they had to "embody the values" of the young people.
They tried to develop a style of collaboration, rather than to push their help on the clients ie the young pple.
And he says they had to "constantly seek feedack" in terms of whether they were responding to real needs and "whether our clients felt helped." [This is the only time I recall ever seeing or hearing anyone else talk about the important point of checking to see if someone else felt helped!]
He said they kept trying new approaches, experimenting and never intended to make anything static.
"In order to develop a flexible and responsive service, we decided to concentrate on our own personal growth as a staff, and this turned out to be one of our chief attractions to volunteers. Our feeing was that if we worked among ourselves to actualize our values in our own relationships, we would be likely to embody these values in our service to others. Concentrating on our own growth and openness as a community also allowed us to become comfortable in criticizing each other, which is crucial to any community which does not want to institutionalize and structure in its own blind spots."
Name Number Nine came from a Beatles song.
Offered free services, starting with operating a call-in phone line. Started with $100, a donated storefront and an apartment and telephones on credit. After they attracted a "tremendous influx of volunteers" and the phones started ringing, they got $13,000 in donations and bought and fixed up a condemned house.
They got a bus, painted it up and started a band.
Later they moved into a four story building which they use as an alternate high school, personal growth center and creative art center.
"All of our activities grew out of our interaction with young people, and dialogue about what they needed for growth in a world which they saw as largely hostile, While psychotherapy, encounter groups, family counseling, and other social services form a large part of our work, they seem to take on meaning and relevance by their connection to our other activities. Our activities are unified through our growing, and still largely fuzzy, conception of ourselves as a community within a larger alternative culture which is working for broad changes in the fabric of our society."
He avoids bureaucratic trappings like committees because they are "unlikely to attract those who might be critical or have fresh ideas to offer."
He says the best way to keep getting new ideas and to see what the community needs (and if you are helping it) is to be as active as possible in the community.
The first step is to "fight the inertia, apathy and passive acceptance of a status quo" which people disagree with, but do nothing about.
In mental health a large problem is that "the people who seem to be in the greatest distress usually have defense mechanisms which keep them from actively seeking help even if it happens to be available.
Ironically, many mental health institutions take the attitude that people whose problem is an inability to accept their help should be punished. We sought to make our image as broad as possible, so that people, whatever their problem, would feel comfortable in at least trying us out."
1) sent staff to places where they expected to find clients
2) participated in activities which drew possible clients
3) advertised in media that young people responded to
4) made our staff and our own community open to the point where people could drift into our meetings or office without having the burden of needing to relate to us as a client
5) created the bus and band, which was not only fun for us but demonstrated that we were involved in ways that young people respected.
As a by product of our openness, one of the greatest problems we have is not being sure who is on our staff. [!]
Anyone can help out on such things as building our house, fixing things up, or going out with the bus.
He says though such loose boundaries were a challenge, it made it easier to help young people who "really wanted help but had difficulty admitting it."
"Often our community and staff meetings became therapy sessions or feedback where people got the kind of information they would get from therapy without ever having to ask for it directly." And they accepted it in that context, where they might not have otherwise. He says people respected the way they operated.
When conflicts erupt, they "try to get at the meaning of the conflict rather than resolve it restrictively by creating rules or boundaries." He says later that they include the discussion of feelings in the meetings (on p 228)
They found that young people "demanded an an almost complete moral purity from an institution.."
They maintained informal networks at the highschools, and the bus brought them a lot of visibility they wouldn't have gotten any other way.
They "outlived their criticisms."
"Other than a few basic ground rules, our basic principle has been experimentation."
"Our method was to be available as listeners from the moment a person came in or phoned us."
They used questions to help the client discover his own issues and to help him generate alternatives to hopelessness.
They found that some general traits of their young clients were:
- an emphasis on immediate experience
- dealing directly with people
- knowing one's feelings
- a willingness to look directly into anxieties
They also found that "one of the primary characteristics of a personal crisis is the storage and inability to discharge strong feelings."
So, "a goal for counseling is to help people recognize and deal with feelings..."
They began including all the relevant people into the counseling, such as boyfriends and parents. This led to family counseling, which took place about in about a third of the situations.
He says "we were surprised at the willingness to call in their families," even when they had previously rebelled against or fled from their families.
"Parents also had little trouble cooperating, which is leading us to feel that people do not really wish to maintain a generation barrier, but are forced into it by feelings they do not know how to understand." [plus beliefs they have never questioned]
p 226 They found that the parents were as impressed with their work as were the young people.
They also found that they needed to follow through with referrals to other agencies and expand their services because other agencies weren't providing good help, or were only helping in very narrow capacities.
"We began to deal with many people having difficulty breaking free of their parents, getting close to other people, or dealing with an educational system that seemed irrelevant and unconcerned about their welfare." They formed associations with lots of other organizations, especially alternative organizations, like the Free School. And they even got a lawyer to help with the "usually ignored area of civil and constitutional rights for young people."
people having difficulty braking free of their parents, getting close to other people, or dealing with an educational system that seemed irrelevant and unconcerned about their welfare."
They formed associations with lots of other organizations, especially alternative organizations, like the Free School.
And they even got a lawyer to help with the "usually ignored area of civil and constitutional rights for young people."
They added a residential crisis center where kids could get away from their parents. If the person wouldn't have been able to go to Number Nine, they usually would end up in jail or in mental institutions, starting "a cylcle which very soon either made him feel bad or crazy."
Generally the maximum stay at NN is one month.
"We try to offer a free and open place for young people to look into themselves and receive shelter and support for that process."
The Staff: "Basically, we did not find that education or credentials had any relationship to intelligence, sensitivity, or ability to help others, and so we have never looked to professionals for our staff." **
"We see working at NN for a year or so not as a career, but as a stage of our own growth, which combines community service with a meaningful learning and growth experience. This "short term and educational aspect" combined with the constant influx of new faces and ideas, "leads to the tremendous energy and dedication of our staff."
He says the staff there is well-prepared for other helping work, or to open similar centers.
The work itself is the training process. "Our whole culture is training..."
"Leadership comes from being involved to the point of having the relevant information to make a decision, or having the energy to carry it out and take responsibility for it. Thus, learning, growth, and leadership are all defined in terms of effective action, which is in sharp contrast to educational institutions whose criteria are largely irrelevant to action."
"After three months it became apparent that the concept of pure participatory democracy was not working."
Problems: founders were doing most of the work, others had personal problems; founders were acting as therapists to the other staff members; the founders were uncomfortable exercising authority till they were made directors and acknowledged more formally as the leaders.
Later they were still having some problems because the staff felt held back and the directors thought the staff wasn't taking enough responsibility.
Number Nine as A Community:
They believed that working and living should not be so separated, and that people should be more open and intimate in work relationships. Most of the staff lived on site.
They wanted to not only offer therapy, but an alternative way of living. And they wanted to model it. They wanted people to hang around and help out after their therapy, to join the staff etc.
They said they had "less difficulty with discipline than a school or a hospital, which takes few pains that its goals are shared with its inmates."
The wanted to help the young people have "their own sense of themselves and to have faith in their ability to do what they want and find what they want in spite of depressing world or home situations."
They found that the conflicts, "fears, avoidances and depressions" produced sufficient crises to give them a "constant source of powerful learning situations to face."
They said it was a primary
function of the directors facilitate learning during such
situations & this helped the directors learn to
"feel comfortable with his own strong feelings and
willingness to look at them."
He says one of the greatest sources of strength and attractiveness as a community and workplace is the "ability for NN to disarm serious crises by resolving them not in the restrictive sense of making rules to prevent them in the future, or making informal social norms to avoid such threatening issues, but through actively dealing with what is happening in a way which leads to greater understanding by each person..."
p 231 NN as social change-
He believes NN will "prove to bored and tired bureaucrats that their jobs need not be dull or frustrating; that satisfaction will lead to better service."
And it will show mental health clinics why they lose so many customers and frustrate so many others.
He says "We can challenge schools to look into their concepts of maturity and responsibility of young people by having their students working effectively helping others. ** [to help fill their need to feel needed, helpful]
"We are trying to be a model for the type of treatment, the kind of education, and they style of life that we want." [wrote: "feel inspired" in margin]
They don't use "confrontation politics" --
"We have decided that for our own survival and for our own values we will deal with the world differently."
"Since we see ourselves as a model of the kind of community we would like to live in, we have chosen to relate on this model to institutions outside us."
He says he isn't trying to reach those who are already stuck in their ways, but to seek young people before they have reached this point (and before they feel completely hopeless and powerless)
He would rather work with and recruit new people than with the "old faces."
When he has contact with adults he tries to "engage many people in dialogue." He meets with PTA's, mental health clinics etc. When he does he says "we do not give lectures, but instead try to conduct exchanges which deal as much as possible with feelings and reactions of those in attendance. **
Rather than provide a lot of information, he tries to lower the "fears and hostilities that keep adults from getting into meaningful encounters with young people."
And they try to offer their message in a respectful and friendly way.
"We try to plant a seed of doubt in their prejudices."
"We are armed with the knowledge that we have more fun, and that we are nice people, even if they don't think so at first." **
"Adults who hear us usually come out feeling better about us and themselves."
Then encourage ppl to visit them when they feel suspicious, and invite them to come to the meetings.
They offer workshops and seminars for parents and families.
They try to arrange discussions in the parents' homes & they ask ppl to tell other groups about them.
All of this has "enlisted the aid of others in carrying our message forward."
He says that he believes (though he uses the verb feel) that such a place must operate visibly and within the "political reality of a community." p234
Next article, Spatial Relations in Community, is by Dan Leibsohn, about intentional communities.
He says intentional communities arose because of "deep human needs and the failure of existing relationships in society."p 239
"Warm, face to face relations with people who profoundly care about each other are seen as crucial to a sense of community and as a condition that can be achieved only within a relatively small and enclosed area. Connection with, and appreciation of, nature and land is also a central aspect of the concept." p 239-40
He says many people are breaking away from old systems, but no new ones have taken their place. Many of these people are turning to drugs, he points out.
p 243 "We act one way with one person and another way with another person based on socially defined roles."
"Rarely do people relate to people as whole persons rather than roles which call for authority, power, rationality, competition,and dishonesty." But he says relating to people as wholes, not roles is "the source of unification."
He says we need breach these roles and allow ourselves to be breached.
"A new pattern of relations is needed that will seek to enhance our capacities to relate to each other. Not to superimpose, but to respond, to give and take, to cry and laugh, as if one is feeling the feelings of the other. To cherish the uniqueness of others, to respect and support their self-definitions; indeed, to help each other find those unique definitions."
Then he talks about how values need to be restructured and how the economy is "irrational," but I would say unhealthy. He says the way we relate to each other, our "patterns of relations" can be based on other [ie healthier] values.
He talks about the importance of mobility in establishing new communities. For example, people can come together from farther away by driving in, keeping in touch by phone, and now the internet. Also, I would add, keeping the entire group mobile,so the whole group can easily move if need be.
He says it is essential to combine production and consumption; and to have an economic base, some services [publishing, or training teachers, or social workers, for example] - he also mentions day cares.
p 249 "responsibility tends to be assumed by only a few who end up doing most of the work"
Next article is "Rights of Children" which is a summary of some recommendations from a workshop in California
This is the only article in the whole book which directly mentions religion as part of the problem in society.
p 253 Development, self-discovery, and free-expression of affection and exploration
into revolutionary non-exploitative and non-oppressive new sexual modes of expression cannot occur where there is interference by imperialist Christian so-called moral laws, ridicule, or guilt, or when children are systematically kept ignorant of the varieties of human joy and pleasure in one another.
2. Children are entitled to civil rights and liberties in no way inferior to those accorded to adults. Child-prisoners in the orphanages and so-called reform schools must be liberated and allowed to find their own place in the people's community.
(then they say the children must be free from conditions which limit their "experimentation into new social forms and structures. "Non-exploitative variety and choice are at the heart of the revolution."
3. Children are not property. No child shall be forced to stay within any biological family if it does not suit "co." [The author uses co to refer to him/her. He or she or "co" got this from Mary Orovan of the New York Radical Feminists] Children must have the chance to explore alternatives and to choose from a variety of structures, combining what we now call family, school, work and apprenticeship and etc.
"The only final judge of the suitability of a particular family or environment for a particular child must be that child."
Then they say that in period before the revolution and the end of the repression, there will be some times when adults will have to make arbitrary decisions and force these upon the children, in order to "protect" both child and adult "from reactionary repression." p 254
They suggest everything be explained to children and that they be taught the skills needed to "survive under repression" and to "lie without embarrassment when interrogated." 254
And they say children should be free to judge for "coself" whether there is a balance between "cos" needs and the family's or the groups, and that the child should be able to "seek an alternative family group to accept co, on cos terms."
"A child's revolt, violence or thievery shows that the environment is not responsive to his or her needs." [what happened to "co"??]
"Materialist needs are exaggerated by capitalist advertising."
"The child's needs for people can never be satisfied by the nuclear family alone, but an extended family is necessary."
They also suggest children have exposure to other cultures, including third-world cultures. They add that the "full impact of a noncapitalist, ecologically sensitive, and humane technology remains unexplored."
4. "The free movement of children in the world," exploration of lifestyles, cultures, "will be possible only if children are economically independent."
"All children are entitled to their share of guaranteed income [who guarantees it?]..."
Then they say that this income is "fruit of the labor of all past generations..." and has been "stolen from the people by the institutions of capitalism."
"The child should control cos food shelter and necessities of life."
[but how do they define child?- surely an infant can't do this, so again definitions are critical, and most would fall back to the expedient of using age, but this causes untold problems.]
Then they talk about how parts of the body and reproductive and sexual acts are used as insults and thought to be vulgar, (and they give the examples of prick, cocksucker, motherfucker, cunt, asshole!) and this teaches children to believe that their bodies are shameful, not beautiful and frightens them from non-tradition sex and expression of love.
Next article is "Psychiatric Draft Letters," by Peter Roemer, which talks about the how psychiatrists could write letters saying s.o. was mentally disturbed, or would become so from the Vietnam war, and thus help him avoid getting drafted into the military.
He says if a person is declared "mad" he is not thought of as "bad," because a mad person can't help doing "wrong" and a bad person can. p 258
p 259 He says the best work a psychiatrist can do is to "see another's predicament, and empathize with it."
He says the definitions of "crazy" and mentally disturbed are "sufficiently broad to include elements found in anyone." Then he says, "I have never met anyone who could not honestly be placed in one of the" categories of mental illness.
p 261 He says some psychiatrists complain that they are being used by people who want to avoid the draft, but he makes the good point that used means you are manipulated or forced into doing something you don't want to do, and this can only occur if you are not clear about of your own values and believes.
He says "Why are they forced? Because of their vagueness of their own beliefs..."
Next article is "Notes on Fanon," by Phil Brown-- it is about Franz Fanon, who Brown says is a psychiatrist and revolutionary. p 275
Fanon wrote about Algeria and how the mental illness there was partly attributed to its colonization by the French.
Fanon wrote The Wretched of the Earth and Studies in a Dying Colonialism.
Jean-Paul Sartre wrote the introduction to Wretched... He said Fanon explains how, "in the period of their helplessness", the natives' "mad impulse to murder" is the expression of their collective reaction to the hostile environment created by the French.
Fanon says the muscular tension in the Algerians caused by the oppressive environment leads to what Brown calls "autodestruction" and, according to Fanon, "keeps alive in the native an anger which is deprived of an outlet..His muscular tension finds outlets regularly in tribal warfare, feuds between sects, and in quarrels between individuals." (Brown gives no citation for this quote.)
Fanon says the natives eventually come to believe the "colonistic psychology" which labels them as suffering from various mental illnesses such as the "belligerence complex" and the "laziness complex." This reminds me of Frederick Douglas writing about the Reverend Rigby Hopkins and how the slaves were labeled in various ways in order to justify a beating.
Fanon evidently gives some examples of people who acted in ways which might be labeled mentally ill, but who were victims of or were exposed to and surrounded by rape, mass murder and other abuses by the French.
Fanon says both individual psychiatry and liberation on a national level are needed; you cannot simply perform the first without working at the same time for the second, since, as Fanon says, "the circumstances of the cured patients maintain and feed their pathological problems." This is something like the metaphor that Covey uses when he says there are people pulling other people out of the river, but someone is also need to go upstream and address what is causing them to be in the river.
Brown asks whether "revolutionary violence" is cathartic and he says that, yes, in the short term it is to some extent since it gives the individual some sense of power over his own life. But at the same time on a larger scale the remedy for the "illness" is the struggle for and the creation of a new society free from both political and cultural oppression. p 279
The next article is by Claude Steiner: The Radical Psychiatry Manifesto
1. The practice of psychiatry has been usurped by the medical establishment **
Psychiatry must return to its nonmedical origins since most psychiatric conditions are in no way the province of medicine.
Psychiatrists should repudiate the use of words such as patient, illness, diagnosis, and treatment.
Psychiatric tests and the diagnostic labels they generate, especially schizophrenia, must be disavowed as meaningless mystifications, the real function of which is to distance psychiatrists from people and to insult people into conformity.
[then he basically says psychiatrists should stop using drugs so much and they should "examine how drug companies are dictating treatment procedure through advertising. p 281]
"Psychiatrists should become advocates of the people, should refuse to participate in the pacification of the oppressed and should encourage people's struggles for liberation."
Then he adds that "paranoia is a state of heightened awareness. Most people are persecuted beyond their wildest delusions. Those who feel at ease are insensitive. Depression is the result of alienation from human by human. Drug abuse is taught to children by their alcoholic, nicotinic, aspirinic elders. Psychiatric deception of the oppressed is at the root of people's alienation."
Next are a few editorials from the RT journal....
One talks about the negative influence of social institutions such as TV, newspapers, and schools but misses religion.
The next talks about power to the people- I wrote in the margin Power to the Intelligent People. [it is not intelligent to give power to those who are unintelligent, so we might ask "why do intelligent people do unintelligent things?"]
Another says "The traditional institutions into which many fall without thinking--marriage, the family-- are the most oppressive. [I would argue for the church to be among the most oppressive.]
Another says external causes produces internal responses, and quotes Fanon as saying "we become people whose emotions are traumatized, people who are fearful, who are paranoid, who cannot trust, who fear asserting ourselves." (no citation)
p 289 uses an interesting "maxim:" From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." This could open a long discussion on abilities, needs, entitlement programs, etc.
Another editorial says "Radical therapy is a life-style. It's not just what a person does, but it's who and what he is and how he lives. p 290
Another is on "internal tactics" and says one of the problems of organizing a group is "a cult of 'but we're all equal,' which cuts down genuine leaders in the name of community and allows everyone's opinions to be 'right,' thus paralyzing us." p 291
The book ends with:
From time to time we'll feel tired and despondent, foolish and frustrated. But we can groove on the struggle; we can groove on one another. The challenge is hard, but the struggle is invigorating. And we shall win.
|Readings in Radical
- Claude Steiner, ed. 1975 */
this book is very similar to The Radical Therapist. First article is same as one of Steiner's in RT book.
Next is by Steiner and Hogie Wyckoff and talks about alienation. Talks about Marx & how he said we produce ourselves as we produce objects. [example, I am a carpenter, or I am a writer- but it is more accurate to say I am a human who writes frequently.] Says people find meaning in their labors, and when this labor is fragmented or meaningless or decisions lie in others' hands, we feel alienated; the person loses his sense of meaning and mastery [and self-confidence and self-pride.]
Article 4 Women's scripts and the stroke economy- Wyckoff p. 44
A script is similar to a program, to a set of instructions which come from parents and society: do this, don't do that. [my paraphrasing] p 44
Women are generally taught to be the nurturing parent- men are generally taught to be the rational adult- using Berne's model, which I guess was pretty popular those days.
A woman is also supposed to be warm, while a man is supposed to be strong. He cites Dot Vance who says the worst thing for a man is impotency (lack of potency or strength, unable to perform); for a woman it is frigidity--lack of warmth.
p 45 Because of role expectations, men often lose touch with their feelings and their warmth.
Women are taught to be stroke givers; they end up using this capacity to barter for security. In the extreme this means: I won't sleep with you unless you marry me.
p 46 says women's stroke-giving capacity is becomes a commodity with "object value" rather than something which is freely given.
Says that when we are indoctrinated into our culture we are told "you may only stroke certain people at certain times under certain conditions."
This creates an artificial scarcity & stroking tends to be seen as sexual & people are cut off from each other's strokes unless it is on this basis. Example: men can't touch each other for fear of being labeled homosexual; women can't give men non-sexual hugs. [can't give NST- non-sexual touch]
Then he gives several examples of roles for women:
- the good wife and mother, who is told to be nice, to give strokes without getting them in return.
- the woman behind the man, who is often stronger than the man but told not to take credit; to be happy when he receives credit and is successful; she is told it is her duty to support her husband.
- the plastic woman- ie the woman who is a sex object; who is covered in make up, perfume, jewelry and provocative clothes. She uses her husband's money to buy strokes from an analyst! [or has an affair, since she will be attracting sleazy men]
Next article (number 5) by Steiner, "Teaching Radical Psychiatry" p 55