Schizogenesis: My Manufactured Madness
By Patricia "Can Opener" Lefave, D.D.(P)
"The idea that some people are unable to discern their own real interests is an invariable alibi of paternalism or tyranny." -- Michael Ignatieff, The Rights Revolution
ReActive Assertive Clients' Team
Psychevolution @ yahoo.ca
© 2004, Patricia Lefave
Disclaimer:Although the metaphysical pattern in this story is out of my own experience, all names, locations and individuals have been altered or amalgamated in order to disguise the identities of the ignorant and the deceived who, knowingly, or unknowingly, colluded with the primary aggressor. As of the time of this writing, he is still "winning" his "game", still enabled by the group. It is June 2004, it has been over eleven years, and the silence from his enablers continues, though they have been told about it, by me, for at least ten years.
It has been the questions of some cast in the role of identified patient which have inspired me to write of our mutual experience with the mental health machine in this more obvious concrete form. This story is written with an interactive and evolving design. To understand our whole truth, we need to see all of our roles in the psychodrama, from every perspective.
The problem we all have is not really complex at all. In fact, it is so simple, so obvious, that it is not seen for that very reason. I have been told by some that they understand what I am saying in terms of abstract patterns but, that if it is not connected to concrete examples, it is difficult to hold on to the real meaning. That is also true for people in psychosis.
What I am trying to demonstrate here is out of both my own concrete experience and that of many others. It includes the experience that earned me my madness label for seeing too much of what has always been right there to see. I prefer to call our collective experience "psychic distress." This "illness" was "medicalized" by people, and for people, who do not want to admit to the obvious but rather prefer to explain it all away. "Disease process" creates a plausible, functional alternate reality; one that enables everyone to avoid the pain of the obvious.
Eugene and Cassandra: The Switch
These two people were once casual acquaintances who worked in the same office building. One is now purportedly "mentally ill" and the other a long suffering martyr. This is their story.
A: Cassandra's Perspective on Reality
Though Cassandra and Eugene have had a disagreement about something Eugene has asked her to call him at work about 4:30 p.m. so they can decide when and where they will meet to talk it over and clear the air between them. Eugene seems very reasonable about it now so Cassandra agrees to call him later and at 4:30 p.m. Cassandra calls Eugene as he suggested.
"So when do you want to get together?" she asks him after one of his co-workers calls him to the phone. In the background she had heard him asking who it was on the phone for him. There was a muffled discussion before he came on the line.
"You want to meet me somewhere?" he asks her.
"Yes sure," Cassandra repeated to him, "I told you that I would."
"Well I'm kind of busy right now," Eugene responds.
"OK then, " answers Cassandra, "If you're too busy we'll talk some other time then."
"No!" he says abruptly," well, that is, I mean to say that I will meet you at Mario's Restaurant later. I don't want to talk another time. I think we need to talk about this as soon as possible."
Cassandra then agrees to meet Eugene at Mario's after work. The pair arrive at Mario's, an out of the way place, within five minutes of each other. Eugene has reserved them a booth in an upper corner, apart from the other patrons. Cassandra feels this is nice of him, thoughtful, to keep their argument private. She is sure they can work it out all right. They just got carried away with it. The whole business had been quite overblown once she started to think about it.
They have coffee and dessert and Eugene agrees he made too big a deal out of a small matter. He explains he was having a bad day and took it out on her because his co-workers had suggested to him that Cassandra was demanding and unreasonable. Cassandra is upset by this. Since they don't really know her, she wonders why they should make such a judgment about her. Eugene tells her not to worry about it as many of them are very petty and jealous.
"We will have to keep them out of our relationship," he suggests.
Cassandra agrees that would probably be for the best. She is a very private person anyway. So having resolved their problem, Eugene and Cassandra begin to form a casual friendship.
"By the way," Eugene mentions, "You can call me Gene if you like. My friends do."
"OK Gene, my friends actually call me Sandy."
After that, Gene and Sandy go out occasionally for coffee or take their lunches to the small park near their office building where they chat about work, world affairs, or books they've read.
B: Cassandra with Eugene's Co-workers
Sometimes, Cassandra drops into Eugene's floor on the way to lunch to see if he is going to go to the park that day. She starts to feel uneasy as his co-workers seem to be giving her strange looks. Sometimes, two or three of them seem to be standing together, watching her and talking about her. Over the next couple of months, their eyes begin to shine with amusement whenever they see her and little smirks appear on their faces. She feels both excluded and confused by this. Before long, they start making derogatory comments about her, right in her presence as if she weren't there. Often, they seem to repeat, word for word, some of the things she has said to Eugene during their lunch breaks together in the park. When they do this, she feels watched and invalidated as a human being.
One day she asks two of them as they are doing it, "Are you talking about me?"
"No, of course not," one of them responds, '"why would we talk about you?" followed by a derisive little laugh. Then the one who answers her says, as an aside to her co-worker, "Apparently they all like seeking attention," little smirks appearing on both of their faces as they walk away.
Cassandra feels puzzled. A third woman, a few feet away from her looks at Cassandra and then at her two friends. She rolls her eyes at them.
"What is going on?" Cassandra asks, mystified by their odd behavior.
"Nothing," one of them replies, with emphasis, as the other says out of the side of her mouth, "At least nothing that YOU would understand."
Both of them then walk away with contemptuous looks on their faces. The answer she got made her feel humiliated and angry. Did they believe that denying doing what they obviously were doing was going to fool her somehow? A five year old child could see through that answer. What was the point of it, she wondered?
Later that week, Sandy tells Gene about their behavior towards her.
"Ignore them," he says, "I told you before they are very petty and jealous. They treat all kinds of people like that. Don't be so sensitive about it. It's no big deal."
Cassandra agrees to ignore it, but thinks Gene should have a talk with them about it since they are quite nasty for some reason. Eugene agrees he will ask them to be nicer to Cassandra.
C: Cassandra and the Public:
Sandy and Gene live in a small city of about fifty thousand people. Over the next few months, Sandy's life there begins to fall apart. People start pointing her out to others: at the bank, the post office, the grocery store, and the library. Often, she is referred to as "Miss Einstein," sometimes apparently seriously, and other times with undisguised contempt. Some stare into her face as if searching for coded information. She begins to feel more like someTHING than someONE. Many stare at her with their eyes glowing brightly with amusement, little smirks regularly appearing upon their faces. If she smiles back, some laugh, others appear startled as if surprised that she saw them. As always, Sandy is puzzled by this strange behavior. Once, when she was sure her feelings about it showed on her face, a man said, to his friend, in a sad tone; "Oh look, she's confused. Such a sad case."
She had to agree. She was confused. Did the man did not know he was visible and audible to her from four feet away? Or was he doing it on purpose, just to display his contempt for her in a way to which she could not respond to it as an equal?
Others begin to talk to her as if she were feeble minded. They "explain" simple things to her as if her I.Q. had suddenly dropped at least eighty points. Some who used to talk to her, now don't talk to her at all, but just glance at her with pained expressions on their faces. She was beginning to feel invisible to them as a human being.
In her own office she catches them watching her from a doorway. Some pat her on the back at the water cooler and ask her if she's "OK today?" The patronizing tone is enraging. It is all she can do to keep from verbally lashing out at them. Many now make faces at her, some of them very angry faces and she doesn't know why. If she asks they won't answer, they walk away, or sometimes respond, "As if you didn't know ! What do you expect when you live in a small town?" "I expect to be treated like an equal human being no matter what the population density may be!" she thinks towards the back walking away from her.
As this strange and threatening group behavior grows, the bullying types grow ever bolder. For them, this is an opportunity which has presented itself, to abuse someone and get away with it. These ones start shouting names at her from passing cars; "Hey nut! bitch! freak! and even more derogatory terms related to gender or imagined sexual performance or preference. Some even begin uttering death threats until finally one shouts at her in the town square, "If you don't leave poor Eugene alone you better start worrying about the times when you are alone, lady!"
"What?" asks Sandy. "Eugene? What does this have to do with Eugene?"
The man she asks simply glares at her, the hatred unmistakable in his eyes. She begins to understand that her life itself may be endangered. The fear that she won't be able to stop this process begins to grow.
D: Cassandra and Eugene
Cassandra calls Gene at the first opportunity and asks him, the anxiety obvious in her voice, "What is going on that people are talking about us all over town?"
Gene says he doesn't know what she means by that. "Why would anyone be talking about 'us'? " Gene says he hasn't seen nor heard a thing. He suggests she must be imagining it.
"Imagining it?" she snaps back, recognizing that the perception of her own reality is being dismissed. Then why are people I don't even know starting to tell me that I have to leave YOU alone? Have you been saying something about me?"
"No, of course not," assures Eugene. "I'm sure people don't intend to sound mean when they are talking to you. You're reading too much into things. You are also accusing me of something, I think. People are likely just trying to help you. "
"Help me? Help me with what?" Now Gene was adopting the patronizing tone with her. And why does he seems to believe "other" people could only have good intentions? What planet has he been living on? Sandy's frustration with trying to be heard was growing.
"Probably," replies Gene coolly, "to accept that you are over-reacting and imagining things, and quite possibly Sandy, to accept that you may actually be ill. I've been meaning to say something myself. I have noticed it too. I think you may need a little medication. Something to calm you down. I think it would be for your own good. You have to admit Sandy, you are very upset. Your voice is kind of high and you are talking quite rapidly."
"Of course I'm upset," Sandy admitted. "This doesn't make any sense and you know it Gene!" a feeling of panic beginning to rise within her. Since when is being "upset" and angry about being treated like I don't understand my own life experience a sign of "illness" in me?
A little later that day, two police officers arrive at Sandy's apartment to talk to her about her "stalking" of Eugene. A wave of fear hits her. They are talking to her in a tone reserved for jumpers and hostage takers...soothing the psycho. They tell her they are sure Gene really doesn't want to hurt her; that he only wants her to get a little help. Cassandra must now agree to talk to a psychiatrist for an assessment of the situation.
"Really," says the officer, "It's for your own good. You wouldn't want any charges to be laid against you if you don't clear this up would you? Better to get it straightened out now don't you think?"
Sandy is both dumbfounded and scared, but since she knows this can all be straightened out, she agrees to go with them to talk to the psychiatrist on duty at the hospital. It was the path of least resistance; the safest and most sensible approach to take. She would save her self defense for someone who knew how to hear her.
E: Cassandra and Dr. Deffmann
She is quite visibly upset now as the strain of dealing with this whole bizarre situation has already taken it's toll on her. She is now escorted to the hospital emergency room for her meeting with Dr. Deffmann.
Like most people, Sandy knows very little about the training of psychiatrists but, since she understands that they know what mental health is all about, she feels confident that Dr. Deffmann will be able to help her resolve this whole mess. Though obviously upset, she tells the psychiatrist about the strange occurrences in her life over the last few months and that recently, she has even had death threats uttered at her by people she doesn't even know. The psychiatrist asks her to tell him what is going on as she sees it. It is now taking some effort for her to remain calm.
She does her best to explain, thankful that someone is finally listening and taking her seriously. "I really don't know what is happening," she begins. "People have been treating me badly for quite awhile and I don't know why, except that it seems to have something to do with Eugene."
"You think Eugene is causing this?" the doctor queries.
"It seems to be all related to him somehow," she goes on." Eight or nine months ago we had a small argument about something, nothing much really, but then we talked it out and we've really been quite friendly ever since. We often take our lunch together and eat in the park. We both like to eat lunch outdoors, so Gene asked me to let him know when I was going so he could go too. But then, his co-workers started telling him I was too demanding, and they started giving me strange looks, staring at me, and talking about me in the third person while I was standing a few feet apart from them...as if I were deaf, or an idiot. If I asked them where Eugene was, they would look amused with little smirks on their faces. When I would ask some of them why they were talking about me, they would just say they weren't."
As Cassandra was telling the psychiatrist her story, she started to calm down, feeling relieved that someone was finally listening to her. "Eugene told me he would tell them to be nicer to me but it didn't help. It just got worse and it started to happen all over town, not just at the office. People I didn't even know would say to each other, "That's her !" or "There's the woman," then all turn as a group and stare at me.....in the grocery store, the post office, my pharmacy, the mall, even at bus stops. They won't tell me why they are behaving the way they are, and I can't seem to stop them nor be heard, no matter what I say," complained Sandy.
She was feeling the panic beginning to rise in her again as talking about it invoked the familiar feeling of invisibility. "I can't make sense of the whole thing. Eugene tells me that I am being too sensitive, that I must be imagining it, or exaggerating. He says that they probably aren't even talking about me; that I only think they are. I don't know what to do anymore. Now, the police have suggested that I am 'stalking' Eugene. Where would they get such an idea?" The psychiatrist tries to comfort Cassandra. "Don't worry," soothes Dr. Deffmann, "I am on your side and I'm going to help you."
Dr. Deffmann is considered to be an excellent diagnostician. He learned his specialty well. He carries within his well trained mind an understanding of the structures of "mental illness" which he was taught. They are a permanent part of his awareness like prefabricated abstract templates waiting to be fitted over the concrete experience, and the minds, of the patients he desires to help in his chosen career of treating and managing sick minds. It is the first step of the marriage ceremony between mad doctor and mad patient.
At this moment, he and Cassandra are in agreement about her condition. Cassandra is: upset, panicked, confused, feeling isolated, having trouble sleeping, lost her appetite, unable to slow her mind down, thinks she is being attacked and threatened by others and is hyper vigilant. She feels like she is operating in high gear all the time trying to sort this mess out. She is also aware that she is beginning to lose her ability to stay connected to concrete reality at times. She can actually feel herself disconnecting in a way that is beyond her control. When it happens, the urge to panic and run becomes very strong. She has to get Dr. Deffmann to believe her so that he will bring the truth out into the open where it can be dealt with. There is nothing else she can do. If the truth is not accepted, what is there to do or say after that that is going to make any difference?
The next step beyond this agreement though, is going to shock Cassandra. It may even trigger her into full blown psychosis, sending her into a surreal world that will stun her already shaky perception of reality and her assigned role within it. It could even fulfill the prophecy of those who discussed the possibility of just such an outcome. The outcome she could not have foreseen.
After his fifteen minute assessment, the very sincere and kindly Dr. Deffmann has arrived at his diagnosis: "acute paranoid schizophrenia."
Cassandra is to be sent to Maple Wood Psychiatric Centre right away to begin treatment for her disease process; a disease Dr. Deffmann found apparent, and identified with considerable ease. He has proclaimed the reality of her experience with the others, and her reactions to it, to be nothing more than an inherent defect originating within her own brain.
The terror that registers on Cassandra's face as she hears the diagnosis, the outcome of her chat with the sincere and well intentioned psychiatrist, is no longer seen by him as real emotion. He does not see it as in relation to Sandy's real life. He sees it as only a symptom of brain disease; "inappropriate affect," as it will now be called. Her invalidation as a human being has now been made complete. She feels like she is being pushed into another dimension; one where the denial of an obvious reality is clearly the top priority, and everyone walks around with plastic smiles in place, denying the denial.
She felt like she had suddenly been jolted awake and been made fully aware of a mindless, group brainwashing few were aware even existed. Instead, they saw her as "unconscious" and themselves as the "conscious" ones. She now understood what "evil" really was. It was "live" backwards, metaphysically as well as spelled. It was because she was now becoming fully aware, that she could no longer be heard by those who were defining her as "ill." It was that invalidation of her reality and isolation that was making her ill. Psychospiritually ill. Not biologically "ill."
The diagnostic label which now belongs permanently to Cassandra, has given her life experience, and her emotional reactions to it, a whole new alternate meaning. She has just stepped through the looking glass and into psychiatric wonderland. She has been declared a self contained "delusional disorder" and is no longer considered to be a part of "normal" society."It is the gift of truth which can free us from the prison of destructive opinions and conventional lies. Ultimately, it is the gift of security which our rediscovered integrity will give us...together, we will tear down the walls."
Alice Miller, Breaking Down The Wall of Silence
And now, for the rest of the story.WARNING! If you are a person in recovery from psychosis, the remaining part of this story may have an impact on your stability if you are not on solid ground just yet. Sudden intense emotion can trigger psychosis. Please read on with caution appropriate to your current condition.
The Missing Information:
Let's shift back in time now to the point when Cassandra and Eugene first became friends after resolving their small argument.
F: Eugene and His Co-Workers:
Remember Cassandra's phone call to Eugene? It was the one she made to him at work at his request, so they could decide when and where to meet so that they could resolve things between them and avoid any hard feelings.
Only this time, let's see the same event from Eugene's perspective and that of his co-workers.
Just before Cassandra called Eugene, he had been talking to his co-workers about something that had been bothering him. He wanted to get their opinion on what to do. He told them he thought he might be having a problem with Cassandra. Eugene liked to get lots of input from others. He told them he thought she might possibly be obsessing about him for some reason and he wasn't sure what to do about it. His co-workers were just offering him some suggestions when the reception phone rang.
It was Cassandra calling for Eugene. It was 4:30 p.m.
"Speak of the devil, Eugene it's her now," the receptionist announced.
"Oh God," says Eugene quietly, "see what I mean? I just told her not to call me at work."
Eugene goes to the phone. After a short conversation he fills his co-workers in on what's up with Cassandra.
"She says she thinks we can be a great couple if I will just listen to her. She said she was going to come here to talk to me so I told her, 'No!' and suggested she meet me at Mario's. At least I can keep her out of the office and I will feel safer in a public place. I told her I don't want to talk about this another time, that this is the last time."
Eugene then calls Mario's Restaurant to reserve a quiet, out of the way booth in a corner, explaining to the waiter on the phone that he has to have a talk with someone and that he is afraid she may be going to make a scene. The waiter assured him that he understood and that he thought he had just the spot to suit Eugene's needs.
Eugene's co-workers think that he was being too solicitous towards Cassandra whom they feel is being unreasonable and demanding. After the meeting at Mario's takes place, Cassandra continues to call Eugene, once or twice a week, to see if he is interested in eating lunch together in the park. When she does, Eugene continues to ask his co-workers advice as well as their opinions about what could be going on in Cassandra's mind.
Eager to help poor, long suffering Eugene, they offer many opinions and much advice about how to handle Sandy's bizarre behavior. They also talk about it a great deal amongst themselves as well as with their friends, relatives, and neighbors. Of course, they are always sure to tell everyone that Eugene's problems with Sandy are to be kept secret and just between them.
Many have now formed the opinion that Sandy is obviously "mentally ill" and some begin to urge Eugene to do something about it; something to stop her. While some are amused by Cassandra's "mental illness", others fear she could be dangerous and definitely should not be allowed to be around other people. Most though, at this point, agree that Sandy is just stupid since she doesn't seem to get the message.
Eugene often just smiles when they express their concern for him. They fear he is not taking either them, or Cassandra seriously enough, for how could he possibly smile while coping with such a serious situation? He assures them he is listening closely to everything they say and he thanks them very seriously, for all of their input.
"I couldn't have handled Sandy as well as I have without all of you giving me your support," he praises them generously, still smiling.
One day, when Sandy showed up at the office to meet Gene, she noticed two of his co-workers, heads together, watching her and talking out of the sides of their mouths, so she asked them straightforwardly, if they were talking about her. Both stated that they were not. Then, they began to talk about her belief that "people" were talking about her, after doing the mental gymnastics necessary to remove themselves as the "people" in question.
Ignoring Sandy's presence, fifteen feet away, one spoke to the other as they walked off, "Apparently, certain people always think other people are talking about them."
At that point Sandy left and went up to her own office, as the pair continued, "It's part of their attention seeking behavior," one went on, "that's why I told her we weren't. After all, we don't want to encourage that sort of thing. It will only make it worse. A lot of people say the best thing to do with someone like Cassandra is just to ignore her completely and not respond to anything she says. That will encourage her to give up the behaviors since there will be no pay off for them. I took psychology as my minor in college."
Another suggests she agrees with the idea of not responding to Sandy at all but adds, "I don't think we should taunt her though like I've seen a couple of other people doing. After all, if she is mentally ill, she can't help herself. Even Eugene agrees with that. He says maybe Sandy just needs some medication and then she'll be all right. "
Right then, Eugene comes out of his cubicle to tell them Sandy has just called him to ask him why so many people are talking about her. His friends roll their eyes with undisguised contempt and one says, "Well du-uhh, maybe she's just stupid Eugene."
Gene's little smile appears as he adds, I told her people are only trying to help her but she doesn't know what she needs help with. Can you imagine?"
Eugene's co-workers are just mystified by Cassandra's lack of insight into her own behavior. "She's in denial," one of them offers.
"Do you really think it's that serious?" Gene wonders out loud.
"Yes," she assures him. "You need to take some serious action with her. Maybe you could check with her neighbors to see if they've noticed anything unusual. We'll be witnesses for you if you need us, but you need to do something about it for your own sake."
Eugene sighs and reluctantly agrees with the group consensus. It is time to call someone with authority to help. So Eugene calls the police to explain the difficulty he is having with poor, sick, twisted Cassandra.
Soon, the police arrive at Sandy's door to escort her to the hospital to be seen by Dr. Deffmann. From there of course, we know the rest of the story from Sandy's point of view.
G: Eugene, His Co-Workers and The Expert
Just before Cassandra was picked up by the police, Gene and two of his co-workers met Dr. Deffmann at emergency at the hospital to discuss her confused state and bizarre, senseless behavior towards Gene. They impressed him with how concerned they were. Dr. Deffmann really appreciated their sincerity. (In fact, two of them were sincere.) He promised to do his best to help Cassandra with her apparent illness. Feeling genuinely relieved, Eugene left with his friends before Cassandra arrived, after suggesting to the psychiatrist that he not mention their visit to Sandy as he felt it would only upset her. A true statement. Dr. Deffmann agreed to keep their confidence.
As they walked out to the car together, a little smirk of satisfaction which went unseen by his workmates, appeared upon Gene's face.
H: Cassandra, Post Emergency Assessment
At the psych. hospital, Cassandra is now close to complete panic. They have informed her that she suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, which is believed to be a chemical imbalance in the brain, or a synapsing/electrical problem, or she just may be predisposed to go mad like some people tend to get ulcers.
In any case, Sandy has been told that she must accept that she is sick; physically ill, they told her, certain that they knew the correct diagnosis. Dr. Donald informed her that her belief that people she didn't even know were talking about her was in fact, a symptom indicating that she was seeking fame.
Why can't he hear that as reality? she wondered silently. Does he not know how groups of people sometimes behave? Why does he so quickly assume that I have a perception problem or a character disorder?"
Dr. Donald then tries to show Cassandra one of her own symptoms by saying, "I need only point out to you which one of us is in distress. What does that tell us?"
Though he had not articulated it to Sandy, Dr. Donald had noticed Sandy's predisposition towards delusions of grandeur.
He has never even met me before. Does he always believe distress exists in relation to nothing other than the "patient's brain"?
Cassandra nevertheless resists taking the drugs they want to give her--a fact noted on her chart: "Patient is resistant, hysterical at times, in denial, non-compliant with meds. and describes the events leading up to hospitalization with distinct overlay of histrionics. No prospect of recovery without RX."
An hour or so later, one of Sandy's co-workers, having heard the news about what happened, arrives at the unit to see how Sandy is doing. Cassandra feels relieved to see a familiar face. Finally, she thought, someone who will give me some straight answers. She felt a ray of hope like a small crack of light forming in the dark cloud of her fear.
But as Sandy started asking Irene White what had happened at work, Irene suddenly looked mystified at her question.
After a pause she said, " Sandy. You practically stalked Eugene. He had no other choice but to call the police. After trying for months to get you to leave him alone, he had to get some help for both of your sakes."
Suddenly, Cassandra was terrified. Gene had been telling them he'd been trying to get her to leave him alone. Now it clicked. "It was Gene who called the police on me?" she asked weakly, her mind spinning out of control, her soul fragmenting as she began to realize the truth. "Yes, of course," Irene stated as if it should be obvious. "What did you expect him to do when you wouldn't listen to reason?"
"Something quite different," Sandy returned in a flat tone, as she walked over to a chair and fell into it. All hope seemed to have vanished now that she had been enlightened by a few facts. Now she knew the reality of the situation; the reality of her experience with Gene. She had stepped unaware through a metaphysical looking glass into an alternate reality in which all the words used to speak about it were the same words but the meaning was exactly the opposite. At the sight of Sandy's defeated face, her friend Irene patted her gently on the back.
"Don't worry," she said, "The psychiatrists here know all about this sort of thing. They are going to do whatever they need to do to make you well again. All you have to do Cassandra, is co-operate and accept their advice and expertise."
Sandy began to laugh uncontrollably and Irene felt distress. After all, there was no reason for Sandy to be laughing. Her illness certainly wasn't a laughing matter.
One of the nurses approached Irene. "Look, don't let it bother you dear," soothed Paula, a calm, friendly nurse. "They all do that. Laughing for no reason is a common symptom of their illness. After all, there is no reason in what they do."
When Sandy heard that, she giggled even more as she watched her friend Irene leave the unit. Sandy knew that Irene could no longer see her nor hear her as she really was.
As an abstract statement apart from concrete facts, the statement Paula the nurse had made was true. There was no reason in this at all.
I: Cassandra and Eugene's Private Relationship
Sandy was now seeing all of this with the acuity afforded her by hindsight. She was remembering what that little argument between she and Eugene had been about. This was the argument that had started her down that slippery slope towards the valley of the shadow of psychic death. This became the grounds for the judgment of her handed down by the Voodoo Priests of Medicine from their Book of Shadows, The Dark Secrets of Metaphysics, the D.S.M.
This was the argument:
Eugene had stated that "men were always smarter than women, no matter what they did, and that any woman who couldn't see that and accept the truth of it, was just delusional."
That was his reason for doing what he did. Reason had nothing to do with it. So, in a convoluted sort of way, the psychiatrists were right, and that was what she found so absurdly funny, slumped in her chair in the wacko ward. Now Eugene had "proven" his superiority to both Cassandra and himself, hadn't he? He had also proven it to the group he had manipulated, though they didn't actually know it. Cassandra was now trapped in the paradox of an alternate reality which had been constructed especially for her BY Eugene, and no one except she and Gene understood that. It had been his goal, his power game, all along, which Sandy had not seen, nor even suspected, until it was too late.
Now of course, Cassandra would never be believed. She had already been officially diagnosed by Drs. Deffmann and Donald as "delusional" for believing "people" were doing her harm for no reason. She knew also, that Eugene appeared to them, to be her long suffering personal savior or rescuer.
At last she understood it all; the whole truth. She was caught within a perfect metaphysical snare with no way out. She had started her lifetime career as madwoman. She would now either panic and fragment further, or she would learn to play the surreal game with psychiatry, for it was psychiatry that had now taken over Gene's role. Of course psychiatry Has something Gene does not have; the unquestioned concrete power to take over complete control of Cassandra's life. This they had done, unaware, on Gene's behalf. This was the cause of Gene's little smile.
Perhaps, she thought in one of her very lucid moments, she would embrace her newly manufactured identity in a way which would form a loophole through which she, and all those like her, would ultimately emerge triumphant. As one of Gene's co-workers had once said while observing her, " It just doesn't make any sense at all. You never know....do you?" "That's right, Mary Kay," Sandy thought to herself, "You never do!"
J: Eugene's Perspective:
Gene had reached his pre-set goal. After Cassandra had been labeled by psychiatry, Eugene admitted he felt relieved and just wanted to let it go and get on with his life now, after all he had been put through. Gene seemed really happy and upbeat for quite a long time after that but eventually the emotional intensity wore off and life returned to a normal everyday routine.
Then, one day, in the Henderson Building elevator, Eugene met Darlene........."Since the majority of bystanders support the bully, it is a system that has to be changed...It is lousy when the onus is put on the target, not on the bullies."
Barbara Coloroso, The Bully, The Bullied and The Bystanders
The Game That Never Ends:
It just goes on and on, my friends.
While Cassandra was institutionalized, and after her release when she became a "client" of the Community Outpatient Clinic, she often told her part of the story in relation to Eugene. Because of her persistence, word of it got back to Drs. Donald and Deffmann. Dr. Donald even talked to Eugene and his co-workers about it asking them if it could have been possible that Cassandra had "misinterpreted" something she may have thought they were doing.
Gene said he "supposed anything might be possible but, he really couldn't say." And Eugene meant exactly what he said. Eugene's co-workers wondered privately if any of what Cassandra was saying about Gene could possibly be true? But ultimately, they agreed together that it would be better for all concerned if they didn't open up that can of worms since it might cause problems for all of them also.
They rationalized that decision by pointing out that Cassandra really was "sick" now and did need help. Why even Sandy admitted to that. The fact was, Sandy's "mental illness" had become the self fulfilling prophecy created and orchestrated by one person with a hidden agenda of domination, which was enabled and supported by the group he had covertly manipulated to help him do it. Not that there had been conscious intent on the group's part, but when they suspected something, after the fact, they decided it was best for them to avoid further investigation. By making that choice, they sacrificed Sandy's concrete life and mental health for the maintenance of the status quo and their need to see themselves as "blameless"; a need they placed as their priority.
It was remarked by some in the community that Sandy was not very friendly now, and did not even seem grateful for all the help she had been given. One man said to another, in her presence, he thought she should learn how to smile a little more. Sandy wondered if there was a disease name for her smiling deficiency....or perhaps that was the name. Ironically, the thought made her smile.
Gene was a very bright guy. No one would disagree with that statement, and he understood people very well. Once again, he had proven himself a real winner in the game of life. He had reached the goal he had set for himself and doing so was the true source of his emotional high. However, he was not the long suffering, altruistic, rescuer the group perceived him to be. It was the group which had the most severe perception problem but, the group members closed ranks and supported each other's denial because that is what dysfunctional groups, certain that their understanding is the best, tend to do. They collude in the defining and maintaining of consensus realities.
In fact, though the group was not aware of it, Sandy often thought wryly to herself, in her case, it really turned out to be a "Gene" problem which predisposed her to go "mad." It was some pretty bad chemistry as well.
When Sandy was in the hospital she became fully aware of her experience. Sandy realized that those who's eyes were glowing with the light of amusement as they watched her, were unaware they were visible to her, in fact, they were obvious. Just as they apparently didn't know they could be seen and understood when talking about her, anywhere from one to fifteen feet away, as they "observed" her like a "specimen" or "subject." It was one of the elements she had the most difficulty getting her mind around, this convoluted thinking of the others. It was just too irrational to be considered as reality. And yet, she knew now that it was the reality of the self deluded other. They believed themselves to be the "superior" ones in either worth or understanding, and therefore not understood by someone as "inferior" as Sandy, the role in which they had cast her themselves.
As a group, they had created and defined her in their own minds and then, reacted to their own creation. Cassandra, instructed to be quiet and accept her fate, had no part in the story of her own experience, or the defining of her own identity. Any attempt to tell her own truth to the doctors, or to the group involved, was immediately suppressed and invalidated. They didn't want to hear it. They believed the truth to be "symptoms" proving how right they were to see "the patient" just the way they did. They did not want to know they had been so easily conned by Eugene. To recognize the truth would open them up to blame, and avoiding blame for anything was their primary goal. Reason wasn't going to work on them. They would need to be startled out of this trance state they were in and startled into self awareness.
After talking to other psychiatric patients, she understood that they were all having basically the same experience. The concrete details changed but, overall the abstract play (or "game") was the same. It was just that some of the identified patients knew who had orchestrated their incarceration and some of them had no idea at all, how it had happened to them, or why.
It was seeing that she, and they, were all suffering the effects originating from a purely human source that motivated Cassandra to work to expose the truth. Working to give credit where credit is due would now become the cause of Cassandra's little smile. It was the secrecy, intimidation, and co-operation with it that was keeping this psychological "game" viable. She decided to adopt the role of "madwoman" she had been told she must accept, and to tell her story, over and over. She would be heard at last or she would indeed, either make a career of being a "madwoman" or end up homeless for "failing" to let her truth "go."
Mystification: The Shadow Cast By The Group Secrets
To understand how reality changes, depending upon one's perspective, try it from all the perspectives while leaving out the sections marked "unknown" as you read the story for each one.
What is Unknown To:
- Cassandra- F, G, J
- Sandy's Co-workers- A, B, C, D, E, I, J
- Eugene's Co-workers- A, C, D, E, I, J
- The Public- A, B, D, E, H, I, J
- Dr. Deffmann- B, H, I, J
- Dr. Donald- A, B, D, F, G, I, J
- Eugene- B, C, E . It is Eugene who is the Source of the group madness. The single most important element unseen by Eugene is the veil of his own arrogance which has blinded him to the truth about himself. He hands the responsibility for his own problems to others via the defense mechanism of subjective projection, among others.
Every Tale Must Have It's Moral
I am reminded of a children's story I was once given to read in elementary school. It was about a contest between the sun and the wind to determine which was the most powerful.
When we turn to our bag of tricks in an attempt to control others, it often turns out to be the bright light and the heat that is the more effective in motivating someone to remove his cloak even though a big bag of wind may, at first, appear to be the more powerful.
The mental health machine is now so self-sustaining and well constructed, that any mere mortal who objects to it's power and control can be overpowered and controlled by the machine itself. The means to do it is built into it. It is medicine's Pyrrhic victory; a so-called "cost effective" quick fixing monstrosity. It has become an entity in it's own right, capable of labeling and controlling even those who work within it, should they dare to attempt to think outside that suffocating and oppressive box.
Doctors D.E.F. (men) : The need to feel "superior" is a relic from an earlier territorial stage of development which properly belongs to our collective past. Time for the protagonists to receive some real understanding. The contest is over. You must let "it" go.
email: Psychevolution @ yahoo.ca Reactive Assertive Clients' Teamtop
Patricia's Blog: www.beyondthepsychiatricbox.blogspot.com
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