WARNING: Dendritic Spreading

an442748 at anon.penet.fi an442748 at anon.penet.fi
Sun Jun 2 02:24:34 EST 1996


Andrew Ray <aray at emory.edu> writes:

> Frankly, I'd like to keep these people's minds numbed - I don't want to 
> have some Jeffrey Dahmer type running around free because people like you 
> think that it's OK for him to think differently (that people are a food 
> source).  A lot of the people you think are being oppressed are locked up 
> to protect the rest of us from them.  Don't forget that.  You think they 
> are the victims, and yet when a schizophrenic, paranoid individual hurts 
> or kills someone, you seem to forget that the people who were killed 
> never did anything to deserve it.  Prevention is better than retribution 
> in this case.  No, you can't lock everyone up to prevent people from 
> killing each other, but when someone is obviously disturbed enough in 
> their thought processes where they pose a danger to other people, they 
> can be locked up and should.  Depressives think differently than you and 
> me, but they aren't locked up because they aren't going to hurt other 
> people.  And I don't think the antidepressants they get are imprisoning 
> their minds.  Generally, if someone is getting Thorazine, they usually 
> need it.

You don't have the right to drug anyone involuntarily.  You may want to
do it, but you don't have the right.  You don't have the right to 
drug even Jeffrey Dahmer.  Forcibly drugging someone, stunning their
mind with powerful tranquilizers, and they _are_ powerful, is cruel
and unusual punishment.

Furthermore, you don't have the right to drug someone on the 
prejudiced supposition that they _may_ be Jeffrey Dahmer, or _may_
be violent. 

The state is entitled to imprison anyone, whether in an altered
state of consciousness or not, _after_ they do some violent act.  
Doing so _on the presumption_ that they _may_ do such things is
fascism.  It's surprising that you don't just see that, but when
it comes to 'them' -- someone else -- mental patients -- people's
ideas about civil rights often are immediately abandoned.
When people do some criminal act and get into the hands of the
criminal justice system and they are deemed mentally ill, they
are consigned to the mental health system, where they have much
fewer rights, much less respect than prisoners get.  The invasion
of the minds of mental patients with forced drugging and 
electroshock is something no-one should have to be subjected to.
Lock someone up if they're violent.  But don't force drugs on them.
You can offer them drugs, say "you'll be calmer if you take this",
but forcing drugs on anyone is fascist.

The common stereotype of mental patients as violent, which you are
operating from, comes from the media.  Every time, it seems, that
some mass murderer is caught, someone goes on a shooting spree, the
media trumpets that they are 'mentally ill'.  So this is the public's
image of the 'mentally ill'.  They may not even be experiencing
altered states of consciousness.  David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam",
said later that he'd made it all up about dogs telling him to
murder people.  The reality of mental patients is far different.

I've been around mental patients.  I used to go to self-help meetings
in a mental hospital.  They were not violent.  They were oppressed 
people, often with very low self-esteem, not good at standing up 
for themselves, ready to blame themselves, not in touch with abuse
that had been done to them.  Or very angry people.  Or perhaps just
weird people.  

People often benefit by their visionary experiences, and forcibly
suppressing them with drugs is fascist.  I've been there; I went
through a visionary experience that was very important in my life.
The terrible thing about the experience was not the visions, not
the voices.  It was how I was treated -- the involuntary commitment,
forced drugging, contemptuous attitudes.  Somehow going through an
intense visionary experience resulted in my being deprived of my
civil rights.  It resulted in imprisonment.  I had not been violent
to anyone, yet I was imprisoned.  And many former mental patients
will tell you the same thing, that whatever experience of altered
consciousness they had, the terrible thing was _how they were treated_,
the mental health system.  The mental hospitals are a totally 
different environment from the truly voluntary settings, from 
therapy and retreats and so on that people choose.  Very few people
voluntarily choose to go to mental hospitals.  They may be
forced by police who decide that they are a 'danger to themselves
or others' without evidence.  I was involuntarily committed for
jaywalking.  Get that.  The pretext for involuntarily committing
me was that I was crossing the road, not at an intersection, therefore
I was a danger to myself, therefore I had to be stuck in a mental
hospital.  (and it wasn't even a busy road).  Or, people may be put
in mental hospitals when they are in some altered state of
consciousness; it is not voluntary in the sense that they choose
it, they just don't have an alternative available, any other
place to go, that's where they're put while they're not watching
out for themselves.  Or, they may not even be in an altered state of
consciousness, just stuck in a mental hospital as a result of,
say, a marital dispute.
The voluntary system, the therapy and retreats and so on, is
totally different from the involuntary system, the various mental
hospitals, because the voluntary services have to _attract_ their
customers.  This is important to understand for people who've been
in the voluntary system and found it OK and therefore don't see
the dark side of psychiatry, who say, "why are you demonizing
psychiatry?  My psychiatrist is nice and supportive".  It _does
not mean_ that involuntary interventions by psychiatrists are
justifiable or that people's experiences in mental hospitals
have anything to do with the experiences of those who _choose_
their help.

Kate Millett wrote an incredible, very terrifying book called
"The Loony Bin Trip".  Read it to learn about the mental health
system as the Thought Police.  We do have thought police.  People
are regularly dumped in mental hospitals simply for acting weird
or disturbing other people.  Kate Millett's thesis is that the
mental health system is an agent of social control, a way that
people who are different are imprisoned and subjected to 
invasive 'therapies' like forced drugging, shock therapy and
psychosurgery, which would never be tolerated if done to 'sane'
people.

When I was admitted to one hospital I had to sign a consent form
for electroshock and lobotomy.  I protested.  The nurse told
me, "Oh, we hardly ever do that [lobotomy] anymore.  We just did it once
to a man who was uncontrollably violent"  The implication was
_strong_ that this had been done to make the man more manageable,
not for some 'therapeutic' reason.  

Folks, if this sort of thing were done to a prison inmate, a
'sane' person, involuntarily or say as a condition of release,
people would be justifiably horrified.  Amnesty International
would be involved.  There would be public defenders taking the
man's case to the Supreme Court.  But when it's done to a mental
patient, by psychiatrists, there is hardly a murmur.  

Kate Millett writes in "The Looney Bin Trip", addressing herself:

"But if you are to be any use, you will have to stop equating madness
with captivity; that is, stop proving you aren't crazy, since this
assumes that if you were, you might deserve to be locked up: you're
only innocent if you're sane, and so on.  So your mind has to be
cold sober, if possible slightly depressed, in order to be adequate
or credible.  No mania.  No imagination, no fantasy, no coming apart.
Not till you permit madness, coming apart into smithereens, can you
really stand against the bin as prison and punishment.  Then you have
a case -- not otherwise.  But you don't even know madness from sanity.
And you fear madness as much as the others, would cut it out of
your mind like a cancer.  Would be surgical about it, lobotomize
your own errant thoughts: silly pronouncements, metaphorical thinking,
symbols, woolgathering, impulsive urges, double identities, 
resemblances, similitudes, traces and recollections.  All like dirt
to be sprayed away with detergent.  Say that you were mad, say
lunaticking around Shannon Airport -- they still have no right to
put you here, deprive you of your liberty and even hope.  [she
was imprisoned in an Irish mental hospital incommunicado until
friends got her out].  Laing
believes that and Szasz and David Cooper.  But you don't believe
it enough yet.  No one else believes it at all.  That, finally, is
the problem."

And, 
"I mean plain old 'insanity'.  And I say it doesn't exist.
   Madness?  Perhaps.  A certain speed of thought, certain wonderful
flights of ideas.  Certain states of altered perception.  Why not hear
voices?  So what?  If you break a window, you pay for it; break a law
and you see a cop, a lawyer, and a judge, pay a fine or go to jail.
But surely it is the law of Thought Crime [Orwell, 1984] to forbid,
punish or incarcerate different thoughts.  Mental activity at the
margin.  Or over the line.  We do not know the mind.  Yet.  We have
forbidden much if not most of human activity, from sexuality to
science and learning or thinking aloud, through the greater part of
our history.  Now we have, through technology, the capacity to
forbid and enforce still more.
   Unless we stop.  And jump -- actually jump -- right past our
superstitions.  Craziness.  Insanity.  Still worse, psychosis, 
episodes, disorders and so forth.  Let the mind be free.  Thought.
Talk, expression, exploration.  That at least, where so little else
is free in this short and so often miserable life.  Bring down the
madhouse, build theaters with its bricks, or playgrounds ...
   Let us stop being afraid.  Of our own thoughts, our own minds.  Of
madness, our own or others'.  Stop being afraid of the mind itself."

Kate Millett's novel says a lot about the fear engendered by the
mental health system, the need to appear 'normal' on pain of being
incarcerated.  The terror, the unpleasantness of the whole episode of
'madness' she describes was purely from the fear of involuntary
confinement, the fear of having mind-bending drugs forced on her,
or getting electroshocked.  Have you felt this fear?  I have.  The
fear of stopping too long on the street to look at something, that
one would be under suspicion of being 'mentally ill'.  The fear
of acting odd.  Probably a lot of survivors of psychiatry, people
who've been imprisoned by psychiatry, have this fear.

It makes one wonder, what would the mental health system look like
if it was genuinely voluntary?  If anyone, whether prisoners, 
convicted murderers, or visionaries, had _totally free choice_ about
any drug interventions; they could be offered but never forced.  If
anyone not convicted of a crime who was in an altered state had a 
wide range of choices about where to stay, whether in a conventional
mental hospital, a halfway house, or at home.  I'm sure that a 
mental health system based on free choice by those most affected,
the mental patients, would look _very_ different.


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