May 11, 2008

Mad pride.

It's a movement.
While psychiatrists generally support the mad pride movement’s desire to speak openly, some have cautioned that a “pro choice” attitude toward medicine can have dire consequences.

“Would you be pro-choice with someone who has another brain disease, Alzheimer’s, who wants to walk outside in the snow without their shoes and socks?” said Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, executive director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Chevy Chase, Md.

20 comments:

rhhardin said...

While psychiatrists generally support the mad pride movement’s desire to speak openly, some have cautioned that a “pro choice” attitude toward medicine can have dire consequences.

No mocking the professionals, is always the rule.

Donna B. said...

The people who are always left out are those who have head injuries. Their symptoms mimic bipolar, depression, but have different causes and the medications do not work, the talk therapy does not work, etc. Mainly because no one understands why the injured brain doesn't quite work right anymore.

PatCA said...

This is not new at all. A Dr. Hubert in 1960s Germany "pioneered" the latest form of this stupid movement. He freed all his patients from the hospital, stating that modern capitalist society was mad, not the patients, and he would guide them through it. Several ended up in a terrorist group--one of his patients was the woman who shot up an OPEC meeting decades ago. Some committed suicide.

If you know anyone with a mentally "extreme" family member you know this is stupid and dangerous.

Zeb Quinn said...

Sometimes the most insidious stigma comes from other types of physicians within the medical profession, and not from without. Most doctors don't like crazy patients and they give them short shrift.

Beth said...

I'm not threatened by the pro-choice rights of people who want to walk outside in the snow wearing only their socks. I'm worried about the schizophrenic (I know, it's a fuzzy term, so what) guy who kept declining his meds and being released from treatment who grabbed a gun and shot a young policewoman a few months ago, and the guy with a similar diagnosis who beat his elderly mother to death because he thought she was in league with "them" and the guy who shot his parents and the cops who'd responded to their call for help getting him into a psychiatric ward. Sometimes, some folks have to either be restrained or forcibly medicated, just so they don't kill anyone. That's just an ugly truth.

Beth said...

This is reviving dim memories of having to read R.D. Laing during my undergrad years.

rhhardin said...

Erving Goffman in 1961 wrote Asylums taking mental institutions as a model for total institutions and their organization, which showed that what was going on what much different from what was represented as going on.

Rather than taking the interesting lesson about total institutions (much as Catch 22 is taken as about the military and not bureaucracies in general), people started closing down mental institutions, and the rest is history.

I've copied out a bit of it here and there here.

It's a great read, though.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

guy who kept declining his meds and being released from treatment who grabbed a gun and shot a young policewoman a few months ago, and the guy with a similar diagnosis who beat his elderly mother to death because he thought she was in league with "them" and the guy who shot his parents and the cops who'd responded to their call for help getting him into a psychiatric ward. Sometimes, some folks have to either be restrained or forcibly medicated, just so they don't kill anyone. That's just an ugly truth

In a less kinder and gentler society.... or in one that had some actual common sense the societal laws of Darwin would come into play. People in previous times knew that you can't have dangerous crazy people in your midst. They will either kill you and your family or do something so stupid in their delusions that they get everyone in the tribe or community killed.

Realistic people with a sense of self preservation do not allow these dangers to remain in society. Non-dangerous crazies become Shamans, musicians, actors and artist.

AST said...

How does that work?

"I'm depressed and I'm proud!"?

"I'm apathetic with flat affect and I'm proud!"

I think we've ridden this pride as far as it will go.

Maybe Bipolar Humility would be a better name for a movement. Or "Manic Apathy."

somefeller said...

Didn't Thomas Szasz come up with a watered-down version of this bullshit decades ago?

I'm with Beth, "mad pride" is all very cute and funny until you're dealing with a schizo with a pistol or, to use a less extreme example, if you are trying to get help for a relative with serious mental issues who doesn't want to get help, and is making life miserable for everyone else around them.

jeff said...

Yeah, we had a schizophrenic in town a few years ago. Went of his meds, and killed a few people delivering newspapers in the early morning. Nicest guy in the world on his meds. And the solution was to change his diet and send him camping? Please.

rhhardin said...

In the early 90s the company paper had an article about the start of the manic depressive march across America, which apparently some employee had some participation in.

They started off in high spirits, one gathered.

Nothing more was ever heard of it. I imagine it dispanded after the first mood swing.

caplight777 said...

A friend of mine just had to be hospitalized with total exhaustion because of living with a bipolar husband in a manic phase who never sleeps and who cannot be trusted not to do bizarre things in their home and neighborhood. Another friend of mine had a son who wouldn't take his psychiatric meds. He murdered someone.

I read Laing and Szaz in grad school. Laing was crap. Szaz had some points to make concerning the over diagnosis of behaviors as abnormal.

Peter Palladas said...

She said she waited until she had tenure at U.S.C. before going public with her experience...of mental illness.

Mad maybe, but clearly not daft.

blake said...

We all go a little mad sometimes.

Mr. Forward said...

Mad Pride?

That's what we Badgers got that Brooklyn ain't got.

Pogo said...

I metnioned this here perhaps over a year ago:

In the 1960s, Mark Vonnegut led a group of 1969 Swarthmore College graduates to a commune, Eden, the Promised Land, in British Columbia. Initially their visionary, Vonnegut became increasingly bizarre and was placed in a psychiatric hospital, diagnosed with schizophrenia, but his voices were surely assisted by ample psychedelic drug use and malnutrition.

Psychologist R.D. Laing disagreed, and told him that his insanity was a sane response to an insane society (or more quotably, schizophrenia is "a special strategy that the patient invents in order to live an unlivable situation.") Highly inspired by anti-psychiatry, this paean to psychosis might be attractive on paper, but in real life, it is a disaster. Vonnegut subsequently suffered "three major breakdowns and a few minor ones".

In April 1974, after being successfully treated with medication and vitamins, he wrote an article in Harper's Magazine called Why I Want to Bite R. D. Laing with this excerpt:

"He's said ...our insights are profound and right on, we're prophetic, courageous explorers of inner space, and so forth... But what I felt when I found myself staring out of the little hole in the padded cell was betrayal. I did everything just like you said, and look where I am now, you bastard."

Now a prediatrician, he describes his mechanism of dealing with it most remarkably here:
"This disease is never your friend. ...You can’t look a the paintings of Van Gogh, and other achievements of manic depressives without concluding that there are positive capacities associated with this illness. But those positives are AS A RESULT OF FIGHTING THE ILLNESS RATHER THAN GIVING IN TO IT."
and elsewhere has said, "Drugs will get rid of the voices in people’s heads, but you have to leave them at least a little bit of their zip."

Pogo said...

But this is the nightmare where the foucaldian postmodernist idea that 'reality is socially constructed' leads us.

Even if true, so what? It is socially constructed to, at a minimum, keep crazy people from killing us.

TMink said...

It is a shame that folks with brain problems are stigmatized, and that should stop.

But batshit crazy people have nothing to be proud of in their illness. It is a disorder, and illness, it is not an alternative, it is not trendy.

This reminds me of the proud pedophiles that show up here every now and again.

Sick and wrong it more to the point. Be proud of our choices, not your hair color.

Trey

Beth said...

My neighbor is schizophrenic and for years has been a tremendous pain in the ass. He yells in the street, at all hours, and sometimes becomes physically intimidating. He's stalked two women who live on our block. For the past year, blessedly, he's been in the care of a relative who lives in a state with better health care.

Unfortunately, when he lives here, the only resort is to have him jailed when he becomes intolerable. He's a small guy and he's whacko, so other inmates steal his food and beat him up (perhaps worse, I don't know.)

I don't want this man incarcerated and abused. I want him in treatment, even if he resists it. Otherwise, I fear someday, someone is going to shoot him out of fear. I've actually threatened to do so when I found him roaming in my yard and alley at night. I opened my back door gun in hand and scared him. He said, "It's just me!" When I asked him how I'm supposed to know that in the middle of the night when I hear someone near my window, he was rational enough to put that together and I never found him there again. I believe he's rational enough to know that he's out of control when he's unmedicated, and that he doesn't care.