Generativity and Recovery! Part Three: Dismantling Industry Constructs to Make Generativity Possible

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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Generativity and Recovery! Part One: The Need to Plan for Generativity from the First Break

 

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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Special Messages Excerpt: Self-Exploration through Causation2

Following up from my last post that featured political causation ideas, this post features examples of some spiritual causation ideas that I frequently use to understand some of my current message experiences. These  last two posts are from my second to last chapter which documents psychological, trauma, and scientific causation explanations in addition to the political and spiritual explanations I am including. I assert in the chapter my belief that the more causation understandings that a message receiver has at their disposal, the more they are able to establish or maintain the flexibility that is required to break out of a message crisis or “psychosis” episode. As I describe below, key to being able to break out of an episode is a willingness to leave causation up to god, and choose the causation explanation that enables you to function with the least amount of distress.

Ultimately there are more causation arguments than I could possibly identify and the more we listen and learn to new explanations for unique individuals, I’d argue the better off we will be.

 

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Special Messages Excerpt: Self-Exploration through Causation

This excerpt is going to operate with the contention that there are five causes of “psychosis”: political, psychological, scientific, trauma, and spiritual. In the chapter I have written, I extensively review differing types of causal arguments that can arise within each causation style. Clearly in the chapter, there is some cross over as science mixes with trauma and politics etcetera. In the chapter, I post ideas that I clearly disagree with and that are not for me. I do so because I have nine years of experience listening to the causal arguments of other people and I respect that other causal arguments may be true for other people. Indeed help comes in different forms for different people. In the chapter, the intention is that as the reader reads through these causation examples, they may relate to some new causal explanation they haven’t thought of. I believe that increasing the number of causal arguments that you have gives you more power to be resilient and flexible when you face threatening or distressing messages as you go through life.

But here, in the excerpt below, I am just going to share three political causation ideas I have heard over the years. This is the theory style that I was most stuck on when I was in crisis. Though thinking this way was toxic for me at the time, in recovery I can reflect on ways that some of my special messages were in fact political in nature. I personally was able to dig myself out of crisis when I shifted to the spiritual causation theory style, a style that causes some to get stuck and marginalized. In the chapter, I legitimize these two causation theories in addition to thoroughly exploring the other legitimate theory styles, psychological, trauma, and scientific.

 

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Excerpt from Special Messages Book, Chapter Seventeen, Anti-Stigma Cognition for Social Rehabilitation

Philosophy of Reality that Promotes Anti-Stigma Cognition:

In order to sell the good parts of cognitive therapy as a tool for social rehabilitation, I have had to create an underlying philosophy about what reality is. This is a model that can come up at various points in individual and group therapy as a means of motivating a message receiver toward using the material world to fact check their spiritual insights.

In this model, I consider reality to be a dialectic between the spiritual message world and the material modern world. The spiritual message world involves all the message experiences that I took pains to identify in chapter four and throughout the text. In short, this includes things like ESP (i.e. reading minds,) hallucinations (i.e. hearing voices) and intuited reality discerned through things like coded linguistic coincidence and loosely associated coded symbols that inhabit a real or imagined world. The spiritual message world is very much in the subjective perspective of an individual consciousness.

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Stigma

Jargonizing the Stigma Concept:

Stigma is a mysterious external process that becomes internal that all message receivers face. Though stigma works in many different ways, I think it is particularly astounding and deceptive that it is not considered part of the definition of all forms of schizophrenia disorders. In my mind including it in the definition is a way of acknowledging and respecting that part of the negative outcome for those who suffer is the way society and our culture defines and treats the phenomenon of special messages. Acknowledging the role of stigma suggests that the outcomes of people becoming resigned to isolate, to sit and smoke all day in a board and care setting, is not only the result of their internal choice or abilities but the systemic interplay of individuals and the community that surrounds them.

For example, having myself transitioned from being treated like a hard-working, conscientious social worker who inspired social change, to a mental patient who needed to be locked on a ward for my own safety, I know that the power of this concept first hand. The transformation was profound! Suddenly my strengths were no longer defined by me. As I walked in circles on the floor to maintain my need for exercise, the only strength my psychiatric nurse gave me was that my family, in spite of all the hurt that I had experienced over the past fifteen years, was good family support. Two years later stigma still dogged me as a deli worker who worked under the constant threat of being fired. Now, fifteen years later, in spite of the fact that that I have a house, a wife, and a job where I am appreciated, I still battle with a sense of being slandered and rejected while my work remains unacknowledged. While I have not let stigma ruin me, I work with people who are extremely undervalued who are fighting the same demon. I write notes that diminish their efforts so the organization I work for can get paid.

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Letting the Public Know I Suffer from Schizophrenia

When people seek mental health services from me, I routinely break what was once a cardinal sin to me early on in my recovery; I review my diagnostic history. I do this with love in my heart to help inspire recovery, however, in the process, the “s” word, “schizophrenia,” will bubble up.

I do this habitually in the outpatient program I work in. I have done this by redefining the medical model definition of the word so that it more accurately reflects the shared internal process that we with “schizophrenia,” or “schizoaffective,” or “bipolar,” or “depression,” or hosts of other diagnoses experience.

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Nine Social Skills Continued

Nine Social Skills I Developed for Myself:

Though in developing these social skills, I initially took a stab at writing from a universal perspective, I have had enough experience running them by people in groups to recognize that many of these are personal. Mad people are very diverse. As a result, the following are meant to be helpful in helping message receivers consider social skills that they need to penetrate the cultural enclave of their choosing. However, it is a wide world with very distinctive individuals and cultures so message receivers need to be constantly exploring their social skills even if they are neuro-divergent, like me, and struggle to do so.

I, for example, have learned to adapt to a ghetto culture and am somewhat comfortable in these contexts, however, have a difficult time switching so that I can be in mainstream culture without losing my social skills. When I feel excluded or sense gossip and slander, I withdraw and lose my ability to socialize. Thus, my ability and sometimes willingness to overcome deficits varies.

The following are set up to help me survive and overcome hostile environments. I’d argue that all message receivers need to consider adjusting social skills to overcome stigma and work together to help each other be successful. Perhaps some of what I have put together for myself may help message receivers and their helpers spot these issues in others and better reflect on the social skills they need to use to replace their retaliation reactions. The goal is to build relationships instead of break them.

 

Social Skill #1: Learning lessons from being punished or unjustly victimized
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Nine Social Skills

To avoid punishment, message receivers will need to build relationships with people who socially sanction the message experience. Social functioning will often require that the message receiver engage in relationships that are in the culture of the “normal” consensus reality. In fact, by the time many message receivers make it into a group many are taught through the mainstream system of care (and perhaps through internalized stigma) to deny their symptoms and play it normal. Indeed at the onset of group, it can take a long while for many group members to share message experiences not only because those experiences are traumatic, but also because they fear being persecuted for doing so. While there are message receivers who stick to their guns especially early in their message crisis, many experienced message receivers already know what it takes to survive in a world dominated by storm troopers. Often, it is anger and emotional desperation that makes them act out their symptoms when in crisis. The game becomes to contain these experiences so that there is no punishment. People may notice something is up with some of us, but social sanctions forces people to contain themselves when they can. Often times the way this is done is silently disdained. And still there are very different degrees of social skills as message receivers do this.

For me personally, learning to submit to this process was very challenging without medication. I do not consider myself to hold good social skills on the whole. In addition to struggling with messages, I like many message receivers have been diagnosed with dyslexia, ADD, and consider myself to be influenced by a mild level of autism. My whole life I have gravitated towards people who are different who might give me a chance. Thus, message receivers who are likewise neuro-divergent might also struggle with basic social skills like looking people in the eye etcetera. While I do my best to accept what I perceive to be the bullying nature of a great deal of social interaction, I do not like the fact that social groups exclude and differentiate themselves from other groups. For me, genuine cuddling is very difficult. As a result, I tend to come from the vantage point that social skills are very difficult when this may not be the case for all message receivers.

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