The Story of Mental Illness and NAMI

(Curing mental illness, one facebook comment at a time…and in the 3-D world, as well.  This was taken from Stop Psychiatric Drugging of Children.)

“They’ll never change…” is a myth of the systems that want us to believe they’ll never change. These structures didn’t even exist! These ideas didn’t even exist!* Now they’ll never change? They’re here to stay!? They just get to keep doing what they’re doing? We just have to accept that?

I beg to differ. 

*The basis for the ideas did exist…in every fascist and oppressive force in history that ever said a person can define the worth and potential of another person’s life. 

Hmmm, there’s quite nothing like reading about NAMI and kids on antipsychotics first thing in the morning. 

I wish that NAMI would use its resources to push for more community respite, so that families and individuals in crisis could have clear accessible options other than hospitalization. The organization does promote force in many states, and if they don’t do it de jure (by policy) they do it de facto (by practice) in their everyday support of things like involuntary commitments. This has a lot to do with psychiatric drugging of children, as it contributes to a medical model of care that reinforces the stigma, causes harm, and promotes psychiatric abuse within the biomedical model of mental health. 

If you’ve read my comments, you’ll see that I am in favor of the positive intentions set forth by NAMI and I am encouraging of change. However, the fact that the country’s largest “voice” for the “mentally ill” does things like support forced hospitalization is fairly contradictory to good intentions as such practice measurably harms people AND their families. Supporting families in “dealing with” their “mentally ill” family member by investing in ideas that tell them that it is okay to have their children handcuffed and taken to locked wards where they are given forced injections…well, it feeds into the core of the problem and it hurts everybody.

As for adolescents and bipolar disorder, is it concerning at all that millions of kids experiencing normal human struggle get pegged with a SPMI which puts them at risk for having to take drugs/get treatment that actually cause further disorder and harm?

There is increasing evidence that struggle and “symptoms” are caused by stress, trauma, and psychological distortions stemming directly from stigma. Further, it has been shown that dysfunction at the family level and psychosocial stress within families is a huge factor in people’s experience with disorder. 

“Mental Illness” itself is an ugly myth and NAMI in part responsible for the perpetuation of that myth. I acknowledge their good intention in thinking that if they made human struggle into a brain disease, a “chemical imbalance” people would look at it more kindly. 

It’s not like diabetes, because diabetes is real and it can be measured and they know precisely how the medicine works and the need for insulin is calculated on an individual basis in conjunction with support of general health practices. Mental Illness is an ugly, erroneous way of looking at struggle and pain. It is negligent of the actual causes of struggle, which are stress and trauma and bad ideas. The treatment of mental illness has been shown to be progressively damaging to people. I am not in support of diagnosis at any age. 

Here’s a scenario: some particularly sensitive and brilliant college student ~ perhaps in the wake of exam week, when the body was flooded with stress hormones that made him (our generic brilliant and sensitive college student) more sensitive to stimuli, which then began to overwhelm him ~ he became scared and his mind, scrambling to make sense of his increasingly scattered and agitated state (caused by stress hormones reinforced by the psychological effects of fear and social trauma, because if one reacts to stress in a way that causes them to be nervous, isolative, emotional, or “erratic” your friends and family start looking at you funny.) This drives additional fear, and things begin to look very strange…which drives disorder by establishing a self-perpetuating stress cycle that is increasingly destructive. Stress>sensitivity>overload>fear>stress…and it just goes on and on. 

Speaking of, after a huge family fight, the young man tears through his dorm and, of course, campus security is called and they are talking to him like he is “crazy.” Which is terrifying, to suddenly be “one of those people” ~ because the culture has told us some very bad things about “those people” ~ they are sick and dangerous people, they live small miserable and indignified lives and they die young. At the hospital, he is told he is a schizophrenic/bipolar (Pronomial shift here. It’s something I accidentally do.) 

You begin to take the medicine because you have to. Terrible things happen at the hospital. The medication makes it so that you don’t feel anything, and that is okay because now living hurts because you are now one of those people and your life is a sad and dangerous place. Your mother doesn’t look at you the same way. Your father is embarrassed. You have to drop out of school and you try to move away and start over but you don’t take your meds and the effects of coming off of them make you a trainwreck.  It’s true. You are a hopeless case. You decide to just take all the pills. After you get out of the hospital, you try to go home to your parents house, but you fight all the time and then you do something without thinking like break something because you’re just so damn sad and pissed off that this is your life and the next time you get out of the hospital, you get put in some horrible group home that is loud and cruel and smells bad. 
Over the years, medication and forced traumatic treatment slowly erode the core of your being and damage your once-fine brain. You simply sit and stare and shake…all because you stayed up too late to study or you tried some drug or you got upset and had a few misunderstandings with yourself and the world. 

There are reams and reams of evidence proving that people can and do recover from “schizophrenia” (and all the other SPMIs) and additional evidence that mental illness is, for all practical purposes, caused by bad ideas and toxic, paternalistic, stigma-driven practice that strips people of their humanity and actually damages them. Iatrogenic illness. 

NAMI invests in some terrible ideas – like “the hopeless schizophrenic” – and supports families in their belief that their child is doomed to be a danger to self or others if they don’t take the medication which kills the light in their eyes and makes them sleep all day. Because nobody likes to be seen as a loser by their family, because nobody likes to be hauled off to awful places after a stupid argument, because nobody likes to have take shots that make them bloated and impotent and dull…well, yeah…the relationships in families can get a little strained. Which further drives disorder…

So, while I support the best possible thing that NAMI could be, I fail to see how that best possible thing could arise in a climate of ideas that are based on poor science and which are reinforced by harm-for-profit entities like BigPharma and hospitals and E. FullerTorrey ~ who NAMI DC should probably comment on next Wednesday at his talk about re-institutionalization and “dangerous mentally ill people” (since NAMI directly or indirectly contributed to the myth, they need to clean it up). 

I fail to see how the idea of “mental illness” supports the “mentally ill” ~ it gives them an illness and it sustains the illness and then the illness does become real, it does become lasting. 

That hurts people. It does not help them. 

We become what we are made to be and what we are seen as being. 

NAMI thought it would diminish stigma to call human struggle a “mental illness” but there is research that shows that it actually increased stigma by making people believe that the mentally ill are afflicted with some mysterious brain disorder that they have to take medication for or they’ll “go crazy” ~ which is a very useful myth for drug companies and those who profit – economically or psychologically – from turning our human existence into sick and confused misery. 

Oh, the “chemical imbalance” ~ it’s called stress. 

Sorry this was long…I do that sometimes. 

Thanks for commenting, All. I love it when I get a chance to challenge bad ideas first thing in the morning.

One thought on “The Story of Mental Illness and NAMI

Is there really anything to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s