Beneath the Suds and Psychiatric Labels

Warning: Graphic Content

 

“I have heard real stories,” said my female therapist, “of men doing graphic and horrible things to women. I don’t think based on what you just told me, there is any justification for any accusation whatsoever. I think you have been saying a lot of hurtful things.”

I figured my mother who was paying for these forced sessions put the shrink up to this confrontation. I never did bring the issue of sexual abuse up.

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My Story of Mental Health Warehousing

I was a skinny and reluctant social worker when I first started out. I was working through an eating disorder. Initially, I didn’t really believe that taking home a middle-class salary for nickel and diming those less fortunate was my idea of contributing to the world.

I guess, I’d gotten the idea that that was what the field was like during interviews I’d held with middle-class white women who worked down the street in government agencies during a social welfare class. I’d set up residence where I was finishing up my schooling, in Camden New Jersey. I needed money to stay independent from my parents.

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Understanding and Respecting Black-Market America As a Social Work Practitioner

I have not found that book learning and on-the-job-training gave me the tools I needed to understand and help people. Instead I have had to use experience, curiosity, and following my own spirit or moral compass. Now, I think this is largely because I didn’t understand the realities of black market America with compassion. Without understanding the rules, the pros the cons and the oppression that results from the crime industry it can be hard to provide the necessary empathy and validation to establish connection and be supportive. Because I didn’t get that training in school, I have had to undergo a journey to learn to be helpful.

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Using Leverage in the Treatment of Psychosis

When I was in psychosis, or what I prefer to call message crisis, I was extremely angry when my family used leverage to force me into treatment. For starters, they contacted the police and supported a three-month hospitalization that kept me from seeking asylum in Canada. I concluded that they were a mafia family and the reason I was getting followed and harassed.

Perhaps this scenario sounds familiar to the reader? It lasted for two years after I was released from the hospital.

I continue to feel hurt by many of the things that transpired due to leverage. I may be able to act like I forgive; but I will never forget what it was like to experience such cruelty alone.

Thank god I was wrong about some of it!

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How to Work with Issues of Mental Health Warehousing as a Professional

Early in my career as a social worker, I couldn’t even see the phenomenon of mental health warehousing let alone know how address the issue in a relationship. My college texts had promoted the mainstream eugenic presumptions associated with mental illness. I didn’t know what was needed to recover from things like psychosis, personality disorders, or addictions and live a fulfilling life other than to tell the client to take their medication.

 

Now, in my twenty-three years of experience working in the system, I have seen many other workers not really learn about the effects of mental health warehousing. It’s as if those of us who work in the field slept during social psychology lessons of Stanley Milligram and the Stanford Prison Experiments. And many of us who do understand the dehumanization process associated with warehousing may abandon the work for private practice. It’d nice it they left a little space in their practice for warehoused individuals. Perhaps some do.

 

Believe me, I never imagined that mental health warehousing would happen to a conscientious person who excelled in the mental health professional like myself. I used to think I was empathetic towards clients because that’s what always impressed others about me. Now I think I was just sympathetic and encapsulated! Indeed, though it could happen to most us, we rarely think that way. When I did land in warehousing, it was a real education.

 

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Are you Prepared to Address Psychosis in Your Practice? (Feature-Length Version)

In Madness and Civilization, philosopher Michel Foucault has predicted a proliferation of madness as disparities increase and modern society advances. Indeed, with psychopharmacology industry booming, rates of addiction, fueled by the opioid epidemic, skyrocketing, terrorism wars raging abroad, ongoing drug wars afflicting low income neighborhoods, escalation in homeless encampments in major cities, and a rise in bullying in schools, and even cyberbullying, it really does seem like higher percentage of people have been forced to explore their mental health struggles. While mass shootings have kept danger stigma in the media high and the media response continues to reinforce silence about mental struggles, the field of psychotherapy does have a lot more trends to address.

When I look through my state’s psychotherapy association’s annual conference, I see many of these trends getting addressed in workshops. But ever invisible is the issue of psychosis. Is it possible that the issue of psychosis functions as a significant part of the madness narrative? Is it possible that psychosis too is affecting more and more Americans as Foucault inferred?

 

 

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The Issue of Medication for Psychosis

The issue of whether to take medication or not can be a difficult one. While medication may work well for some, it may do little for others. This syncs with the fact that experiences associated with psychosis are vast and varied. People who suffer are very diverse, and causation remains nebulous.

I believe that causation for each person is a constellation of a series of modalities. I have witnessed how comparing causation theories becomes the spice of life in a psychosis support group. I find support groups for people who experience what is labeled as psychosis to be full of cultural learning that can result in powerful growth and wisdom.

As someone whose been in recovery for fifteen years, I have also witnessed the issue of medication to be politically divisive amongst message receivers or people who experience psychosis. Personally, I am starting to see it more as an element of cultural diversity in which differences can make the support groups I run vibrant and spectacular.

I believe I have a moderate view on this topic, which means it can be hard not to feel under attack in differing circles. My hope in this article is to provide perspectives to help people make their own decision about medication and work together regardless of their views and life experience.

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The Need to Dismantle Industry Constructs (Part Three)

When I think back to my twenty-two-year career working with other providers, my mid-career first-break, and the things that helped me recover, like my dog, I know for sure that the standard of care needs is a disservice to those who experience madness.

Many people who have breaks from reality get that permanent housing trajectory in their heads and rant and rail against it. They may still believe that there is such a thing as schizophrenia and be disinterested in the lives of their peers who are clearly schizophrenics. Those who have breaks, like me, are extremely diverse with distinctive cultural backgrounds, different access to resources and differing levels of buy into to the concept that they are permanently ill with something that will never go away. Those without a history of privilege become very susceptible for decline into permanent warehousing conditions that make healing very challenging.

Clearly, dismantling industry constructs for things like schizophrenia and poor prognosis is an important component of recovery. I have a hunch that to plan for generativity, schizophrenic constructs, other disorder constructs that block the formation of counterculture, and constructs from developmental psychology need to be challenged.

 

 

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How the Privilege of Generativity Helped Me Accept My Family (Part Two)

My three-month psychiatric incarceration seemed to be aimed at discrediting me after I had leaked newspaper stories. On my way to Canada to seek asylum, I was stopped by police. I evaded them for three days through rural towns and surrendered one midnight, from a ditch on a mountain pass.

It was hard for me to accept the way I was treated. Confined to a ward for two weeks, I walked in circles. I barked on the payphone testing many of my supports. They all just said I was delusional.

I really did learn a lot from a mob boss’s daughter. There are a lot to the rules that govern those of us who get trafficked in this land of the free. Still, I did what I could to disrespect the mob especially because my counselor told me not to. And so, I endured a month of chronic warehousing conditions. I had to wear other peoples’ clothes to brave the ice-cold of the barely heated ward.

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The Need to Plan for Your Loved Ones Recovery (Part One)

 

In the United States, when a person has what is often referred to as a first break, the courses of action that get taken against them may end up being a crime against their humanity.

While there can be very diverse responses from family and friends, there is the unfortunate tendency to turn to the mental health industry for support and direction. Many providers in the industry only know the standard of care which is to refer the person to a hospital and psychiatric medications.

Few providers take an interest in understanding and exploring the important experiences that lead to the break. I call these experiences special messages. Finding a provider who is curious about these experiences, skilled at understanding them, and who knows better than to try to suppress them can be rare.

Many providers fail to acknowledge the trauma involved in the lives of the people who have first breaks and that the trauma that gets worsened as the standard of care—forced medication, social security, revolving hospital doors, and warehousing—get implemented. Many presume this is a necessary process.

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