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The Psychiatric Tautology: Our Collective Nightmare

by Patricia Lefave, "The Mystical Madwoman"

My goal, in sharing my personal experience, is mutual rescue and healing, and I will stay permanently focused on that, whatever else goes on around me, or in my concrete life. The "mutual" part, is because I believe psychiatry, itself, needs healing as much, or more, than those of us it is determined to define as sick.

There is no conflict between levels of consciousness for me anymore. Only a growing integration of mind, spirit and body, which I expect to continue, even when the body part of it gets dumped like a butterfly releasing a cocoon. I have seen "wonders," and experienced a spiritual connection beyond the limitations of my physical self. I will share everything I've learned from it, with anyone who is willing to accept it. But I feel no need to convince anyone who can't accept it. Having gone through it, and come out the other side of it, it no longer matters to me who does, or does not, accept my experience as "real." He, or she, gets to judge their own experience. I get mine. It's called boundaries, and good boundaries set you free from enmeshment, and convert it into it's opposite, which is intimacy. Intimacy can only exist as a relationship of equals. Enmeshment is a relationship between co-dependents perpetually engaged in a power struggle.

As I've said before, I do not believe the "illness," by any of it's names, is physical. If it is, where did mine go? "Into remission" as some like to imagine? Do I have leukemia? Diseases go into remission. What I experienced was an event, which included other people who refused then, to relate directly as equals, and who still do. It was not a disease. It was group dysfunction. Psychospiritual problems don't "go into remission". They get resolved. Or they don't get resolved. Sometimes, maybe more often than we care to know, they don't get resolved because the "authority" figures don't believe that they can be. Because they don't believe it's possible, they don't allow it to happen; which then just proves how right the authority is in his expertise.

It is my opinion, based upon my own experience, that the mental health establishment is suffering from Tautological Argument Disorder (or T.A.D. for short ) and that they are just a TAD off in their understanding and attempt, to deal with something they really don't understand. While believing that they are "objective" observers outside the problem, they are actually inside the circle of insanity, caught in the snare of their own faulty reasoning. Most of them have the best of intentions. I have been coerced, controlled, intimidated and manipulated by some really nice people, which I genuinely like, on a personal level. But, and that's my Big But, their belief system does not allow them to hear the whole truth. What you cannot hear, you cannot repair. You cannot repair a metaphysical problem with physical tools. Nor will logic penetrate illogic. It's like trying to meet someone by driving on a divided! highway while traveling in opposite directions. I think I'm on the Highway to Heaven and Psychiatry's still traveling on that bumpy Yellow Brick road to Oz, in search of the Con man passing himself off as the Wizard.

The problem is in the assumptions about who is whom. Psychiatrist and patient face each other using the same words, but hearing opposite meanings. Take the statement, "logic will not penetrate illogic." Most of my TEAM of psychiatrists would agree with me about that, as an abstract idea. However, they would not be able to accept the idea that THEY could possibly represent the illogical side of the equation. When any human being ASSUMES he has the higher understanding, or worth, in a relationship with another, he hears everything said to him in relation to that premise of reasoning. This is why Identified Patients feel invisible. They are invisible as the people they truly are, because the psychiatrist has been trained ( programmed ) to hear them in a specific way. The way he hears what's being said to him, is the error that needs to be undone. Unless it is undone, the Identified Patient remains trapped in a paradox, since the more she tells the truth, the more certain the psychiatrist becomes that his diagnosis is correct. And according to his understanding, it is.

If only there really was a disease, everything would be going just great. Unfortunately, as long as the patient keeps telling the truth the doctor can never hear, they are both locked into the Co-dependent Two Step. As Thomas Szasz refers to it, Psychiatric Matrimony, a lifetime commitment complete with certification ceremony. It is the Psychiatric Faith itself, that creates, or, at least reinforces a tautological nightmare from which there is no escape. People in psychosis become aware their insanity is circular. In fact, that is a horrifying realization; that they are caught in an inescapable maze. All arguments used by the patient, on the level of abstract reasoning, are blocked by everyone who is "helping" us to accept the invisible "disease" raging within our defective selves. All evidence is denied. All emotion, invalidated, by renaming it an "inappropriate affect." It becomes impossible for the patient to integrate her very real concrete experience with the concepts that would allow her to make sense of it. That's what the "split" really is. If psychiatry would stop acting like the Patriarchy from Hell, and treating patients like naughty children being punished and controlled, for just a minute, we'd all improve dramatically. And by all, I mean , patients AND psychiatrists.

First though, psychiatrists are going to have to get over the domineering parent act, and learn to relate as equals so that they can lead by that example, rather than demonstrations of unquestioned power and "other" control. Relating in terms of a power struggle IS the problem in the first place. It's like trying to save someone from drowning by dragging them out to deeper waters so they'll get used to the idea. If you listen closely, you will hear the same problem, in all it's concrete manifestations. That's what is being suppressed. Suppressed pain and conflict emerges in perverted forms of itself. Just like dreams and nightmares. Only these nightmares occur while the patient's eyes are open, and they cannot awaken from it. If you allow the dreamer to wake up to the truth, the dream, or nightmare, is expressing for them, in symbolic form, the nightmare will end. To do that, Psychiatry is going to have to wake up to the same truth. And if the patient's nightmare ends, so will everyone else's.

Dream states tell us the things we can't, or won't, or aren't "allowed" to face in our waking lives. Though the form may be frightening, amusing, or bizarre, the concepts which the form represents are accurate and meaning-full. Just as you would not call the person having a disturbing dream, inherently defective, don't relate to the person in psychosis that way either. And please stop talking about us four feet away like we are not there. Contrary to what you may have been told, we are not stupid, blind, deaf, nor unconscious, even when in psychosis. What we are, is overwhelmed with contradictory information, much of it coming out of you, not bubbling up from within an imbalanced chemical soup, that has somehow replaced our brains and transformed us into the town doorknobs. It's the "help" that comes later that does that.

The person in psychosis needs much more validation and empathy than the dreamer. The dreamer's altered state ends when he wakes up. The psychotic person can't wake up because he can no longer stay connected to concrete reality. His Self, the core of his being, has become lost in the chaos and the attempt to find his way out of it. The LAST thing a person in psychosis needs, is to be mocked, ridiculed, smirked at (as though this terrifying ordeal was entertainment for others) and then to be told his experience is meaningless.

Invalidating the patient's perception of herself, her experience, and her feelings, certainly does validate the doctor's point of view though, doesn't it? It is said of patients," They won't accept that they are sick." (Often accompanied by clucking and head shaking.) That's right. Now, just for the sake of argument, switch your premise of reasoning and assume the patient you are clucking at is actually right. (Come on. Humor me. I'm the nut. ) If she is right, then that would mean the psychiatrist is wrong, wouldn't it? Can psychiatry handle that? Or, does the profession, like authority figures in dysfunctional families, need to be right all the time, no matter what it costs everybody else? When trying to discuss this problem with a highly educated individual, he responded by hiding behind a philosophical platitude: "We hear what we want to hear," he intoned wisely. As a nexus statement, I agree with that, and would even add, "And we don't hear what we don't want to hear." Of course these statements really have no meaning without context. They have many potential meanings until they are connected to a specific example. Life isn't an abstraction. It is eventful. It is the event, together with it's conceptual meaning that creates the individual's reality. Many an Identified Patient dies while still trying to get others to hear the truth they have been telling all along. Are appearances, power, profit and "other" control, more important than facing reality and aiming for a goal of true healing? Has maintaining the politics of the mental health business become more important than cleaning up the mess it has created? If so, The Psychiatric Faith can rest assured business will be booming, and continue to grow, until finally it collapses from within, like a house of cards.

I want to salvage the structure but, my optimism about that is waning with every passing year of self-protective silence, from those who should know better than they obviously do. A friend in the U.S., who is also engaged in trying to change the system, thinks I am "Pollyanna-ish" about my belief that it is possible for people, who may not even like each other, personally, to focus on a common goal. Maybe he's right. I hope not. But maybe I'm just wasting too much time trying to tell the wrong people.

As I once said to a Psychiatrist, "This is one 'business' where you shouldn't regard repeat business as a sign of success." This customer is unhappy with "the product." I think it has a lot to do with being made an offer I can't refuse, and how literally you mean that. In this business, the customer who complains, is always wrong.

Psychiatry will soon have every human emotion defined as a chemistry or electrical problem. If we are all soon to be defined as crazy, and in need of just the right pill to function, who will be left to assess what is normal? Normal is quickly coming to mean; Those who are willing to deal with their problems, thoughts, and experiences, by swallowing a pill, so they won't have to feel anything, that would motivate them, to work, to solve their problems. The Psychiatric Tautology, Catch 22. The Inescapable Diagnostics. All printed up in the bible belonging to the Psychiatric Faith; to make it official. This is the D.S.M. which I now think of as the Dark Secrets of Metaphysics. (For an interesting read about the "Dark Secrets," and how it is created, read Paula Caplan's They Say You're Crazy).

When an individual's, or institution's, goal is Domination of others, and to be "right," no matter how much evidence there is that he, (or it) is wrong, everything said, or done, by the other in relation to that, is invalidated by the "right" one, to protect that self-delusion. When power and "other" control are the goal, reason gets left behind. Reason cannot communicate directly with power, because power doesn't listen to reason.

It is not our desire to play the role of psychiatry's adversary. Most of us feel somewhat uncomfortable in that role, especially because any "negative" emotion we may be foolish enough to allow to show on our faces, is often assessed as a "symptom" giving validity to psychiatry's "intervention". (The never ending tautology.) We would rather you joined our "side," so there would be no "sides". But, if you won't join our side, we must work to have you see yourselves, as we see you. We will mirror back to you, your true image, using the power of the Collective Voices of those you have rendered power-less, as individuals. Beyond that, we will just have to heal Our Selves. Not because of your efforts, but in spite of your efforts to talk us out of our hope to do so.

Patricia Lefave, D.D.(P.)

email: Psychevolution @ yahoo.ca
Patricia's Blog: www.beyondthepsychiatricbox.blogspot.com

© 2003, Patricia Lefave


View our related articles:
"The Minds of Psychiatrists Research Project"

"The Schizophrenic/Psychiatric Mirror: My Reflection on the Co-dependent Dynamic" by Patricia Lefave

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