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show details Jul 25 (1 day ago)
Why is it that people are assumed to be ill when they experience the world differently? A great deal of the discomfort that is associated with mental health disorder can likely be attributed to the negativity that is, at this point, part and parcel of mental illness. It is true that some psychiatric symptoms are deeply painful. However, one can separate symptoms from the meaning assigned to them. Psychiatric symptoms are especially vulnerable to subjective interpretation. By this I mean to postulate that our experience of having divergent neurologies becomes an ordeal of painful disorder when we rely on culture-bound associations in our appraisal of our states of being.
The nature of these states, the qualities that they assume, are wholly the result of our efforts, both liminal and subconscious, to understand, to explain, to process the way that we feel. Most disorders have an emotional and a cognitive component, some also incorporate atypical sensory perception into the cache of conditions that causes the individual to experience the world differently. Most disordered experiences are rooted in trauma, of one form or another.
By acknowledging the processes that contribute to the experience of feeling good or feeling bad or feeling anything at all, we are able to remind ourselves that there is a reason we feel the way we feel. We are reassured that the feeling will not last forever.
Sent: Jul 24, 2011 8:21 PM
For many, the process of mental health recovery is not only the development of skills that mitigate the effects of disorder, but a conceptual healing of the trauma that often comes with experiencing the world in a way that is deemed ill. When a person is “treated for mental illness,” they are, inherently, seen as sick.
Having one’s most intense impressions and perspectives of emotion be pathologized as an illness deals a devastating blow to one’s sense of self certainty and self worth. Let us differentiate between these concepts. Self certainty is the assurance that one may experience in trusting that his or her experiencing of the world is true and accurate. Many people who are diagnosed with mental health disorders do not have the luxury of taking their experiences for granted, and the sense of insecurity that is bred of scrutiny and doubt can wither confidence and impede the instinct to be self-directive in one’s actions and insights. Self worth is fairly evident in definition, referring to the valuation that we assign to ourselves within the context of our lives.
These contextual lives are largely defined by culture and role. With any role comes expectations and it is entirely possible that the normative range of experience and expression within a given role may be ill-suited for the neurologically divergent. There is a saying, “It is possible to pound a square peg through a round hole. The only problem is you end up ruining the peg.” When we are constrained by limitations of expression, emotion, and occupation, we are constrained to try to function within a majority reality that does not accommodate the interests and experience of our humanity. Within these constraints, many people may begin to experience a sense of core conflict between themselves and the world.
There is a relationship between economy and culture and mental health. As markets become less diverse and occupations become localized in the industry of consumer goods and services, work environments become standardized and people become commodified as service and industry workers. Perhaps, in addition to over-diagnosis, mismedication, and increasing trauma, rates of mental health disorder are going up because people simply feel that they have no dignified place in the world.
It’s true, some of us just aren’t cut out for life in the “real” world. However, that does not mean that we are not good at something, it simply means that, in the “real” world, our talents are not recognized or valued and, even if they are, there are limited ways for us to integrate our unique skills into the increasingly narrow and inopportune economy. This also means that the “real world” – as it is set forth in mass culture – fails to inform us of the vast possibilities for meaningful engagement in activities and ideas that might reinforce our strengths and make use of our talents.
Let’s keep one thing strongly in our minds, the world as we know it did not exist one hundred years ago, much less a thousand years ago. The rates of cultural and technological shift have been grossly accelerated by the industrial and capitalist movements, spurned forward by profit driven corporations. The innovations that are sold to people and to communities and to places of business are not necessarily for the good of the entities investing in them, they are products of the capitalist market and thus, ultimately, serve the capitalist market.
Mad Recovery is the radical notion that the neuro/experientially divergent may be of value to society. In order to work towards Mad Recovery, we must re-examine the criteria we use to determine wellness and functionality. Normalcy must be examined at close range, until we see that what is deemed to be “normal” in the 21st century may not, in fact, be normal at all. In many cases, “normal” may well be the cause of much distress and dysfunction.