The Longings of Lonliness: Published on bayart.org

 

Living with Schizophrenia in Oakland: Posted on bayart.org, December 10, 2016

Through a sea of tissues and a hacking cough, I scan Netflix pressing that stubborn button on my Roku remote multiple times. I read the summations of shows for several minutes until I come across a documentary called, the 13th. Finally, I settle in. Resting is not an easy thing to do with that constant sense of urgency I live with.

I don’t know what’s worse these days: dragging through a pre-holiday week on the outpatient psychiatric unit on Dayquil; or listening to the radio talk about impending loss as the new cabinet of Trump supporters get selected.

A cross town slog into East Oakland after work on the unit one night last week revealed once again that the streets are ever-burgeoning with homeless, some of whom I know intimately. In each car encampment, I saw a distinctive cultural story that needs to be heard.

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The Day the Bomb Dropped

And so I’m hanging with my main man, Dan

Who can’t afford rent, dignity now inept,

Cause federal subsidy is a damn scam!

 

And we imagine shelterless street sultans

Rooting through boarding home shanties, stench swept

And so I’m hanging with my main man, Dan

 

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Tricksters

Jargonizing the Trickster Concept:

The symbol of the trickster in Native American Navajo culture is the coyote. The coyote is a revered as a con, a sign of witchcraft, or a type of bad omen that will lead you into trouble and is very powerful. A trickster, as I am using it, is a predictive message that attaches to unconscious and conscious divergent views that are not proven to be true but that can become a powerful truth if it is trusted. Tricksters can become true via the mechanism of negative self-fulfilling prophesy.  Becoming aware of this spiritual reality is very important to understanding trauma that gets experienced in a message crisis. Indeed, unless a message receiver can see a way out of very stark circumstances they may get sucked into a meat grinding machine that can make them disappear; they may end up lacking a social role and living in unhealthy circumstances. Understanding the trickster involves understanding how to overcome this social prediction.

Thus, thinking that others are going to exclude or institutionalize you will lead you to put negative energy out there that may help your fears come true.  If helpers learn and believe in the power of this trickster spiritual trap, they may learn to practice techniques that trick the tricksters!  Instead of receiving a double bind experience, let helpers trap message receivers into no way out but to win situations.  This can help jostle a message receiver out of the trickster trap. This might need to be achieved repeatedly for a while before the message receiver learns to trust the helper. If a message receiver has been victim to trickster realities for ten years, one would not expect them to be healed from one intervention.

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Spring Crucifixion in Camden, 1993

He spoke to me the other night

That man there.

He was out with one of his buddies

Out under the decaying urban veranda,

The scent of spring blossoms

Trailing off to sleep

Against the ghetto dust

And gleaming skyline

Of business building core.

“She’s beautiful,” he whispered

Raising his chin to the window.

I held a bucket of grease

And spilled some on my sneakers

Nodding after him.

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A Vulgar Marxist Beat

Belizaro’s old Ford pickup

Strained to cross the deep ruts

It has gauged into me,

Grinding its wheels

Across my soft black earth.

The truck coughed an echo

Against my silent countryside,

Carrying in it

An empty-hearted American boy

Who had come to see

My fields of working men.

Wheezing to a halt,

Its echo was replaced

By the steady:

Swish-swish, swish-swish

Of swinging machetes

That remained submerged

In the tall stalked grass

That grows between the mango trees

And Belizaro’s sugar cane.

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Positive Self-Fulfilling Prophesies

Self-Fulfilling Prophesies in All Aspects of Culture:

The spiritual concept of the positive self-fulfilling prophesy, which represents things like prayer and faith, is pivotal for message receiver and arguably for anyone dealing with trauma.  As many people I have worked with have pointed out, the concept is present in the Bible and, I believe, in other spiritual traditions from the major world religions to the local indigenous practices.  Whether this is true or not, I’d argue that the concept of positive self-fulfilling prophesy is also clearly present in modern music (I heard it in a John Mellencamp song) in self-help books (“The Law of Attraction,”) modern spiritual videos (“The Secret,”) and in the foundations of positive psychology. I am essentially arguing that this is a major cultural phenomenon that message receivers are simply denied in the current system due to labels and prejudice which they ever so desperately need!

I argue that the institution and wider culture fail to teach it to message receivers when it is so particularly needed in message crisis. Indeed, somehow social goals associated with self-fulfilling prophesy get permanently dropped when they need to be first and foremost on the helper and messages receiver’s mind. It is hard when someone is locked in a warehouse with nothing to do to teach such a concept. Still, some recovery minded helpers manage to help message receivers focus on activities in some stark circumstances.

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Ode to a Cockroach

I can see you skittering through my soul.

I can see blood pulse through your kidney corpse.

Dripping live cells into some fertile hole

For upon human life your presence torques

Blood pressured fear. And the multitude

Abandon city and sleep on sheets clean.

You sit in your puddle of Raid and laugh

And will roll on your back in buoyant mood.

Though we may have killed you, our joy is lean

And your joy is our fear inspired staph.

 

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On a Writer’s Need for Acknowledgement

Ever since I finally, at the age of forty-three, published some of my writing, I’ve found that I am particularly prone to pain again. Ever since, each morning I have woken up driven to find ways to get people to read my book.

A year and a month later, I have primarily had to pay people to check out my work. There are those who accepted the free book without giving it a read, let alone write promised reviews. Sure the memoir itself has collected two awards and primarily five star reviews, but amid the boom of self-published authors I find myself more hurt by the silent echo, than grateful to the friends who have read, and not balked.

After a tough week,  I find  this pain expounding itself through every facet of my consciousness. I am out walking with my wife and I think about how psychiatrists have hustled me through explanation of my psychotherapy; about the numerous presentations I have provided that ended up empty; about leaders of the psychiatric survivors movement who promote those with less experience; about the presentation when I had people finally laughing and listening to me, and the smoke bomb that forced evacuation. There were past company owners who hired me, ignored statistics as I worked sixty hour weeks and demoted me . . .

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