I believe an individual can gain a bigger cultural sense of who they are when:
- Those who have spiritual experiences mix with those who have more paranoid conspiracy focused ones (or any mix thereof);
- I see more irritated mania Madness mix with the more dysphoric numbed out or catatonic type; or
- I see those who hear voices and see visuals mix with the people who code words and get magical intuition from interpersonal information.
- I see those who are underprivileged mix with those who are provided for; and
- Finally, when I see those who can go without medication mix with those who have come to a self-determined acceptance that they need it.
They can become more aware of what advantages and strengths they have. I believe diversity can be very healing. I see participants learn how they might use the differing perspectives of others to become less stuck with the current situations that limit them.
What I have come to believe is that although Madness made me grow happier and healthier (through a lot of pain and suffering) which fits the narrative of spiritual emergence, I relate very strongly to those still experiencing the pain and suffering.
I believe that if I believe in them it is more likely to help them.
Indeed, some message receivers may be more the victim of trauma, some may be more spiritually endowed and still others may be more afflicted with being scientifically different than others. When one voice rules the Mad nation and imposes its views on others, there is potential for so much learning and cultural exploration to be lost.
Just Saving the Privileged?
I resist the general sense that treatment must skim the useful and talented from the top of the Mad pile to save them from going into the meat grinder and having horrific experiences.
Once you have experienced the meat grinder or try to honor that experience, you may feel like those who haven’t see you as damaged goods. You may be seen as not worthy of promoting the true virtues of health.
On days that I feel highly alienated from the movement, I feel that I’m seen this way.
From where I sit on a swivel chair, being horrified and appalled by repressive environments, unilaterally attacking them with generalizations that alienate and dehumanize individuals who can use them to heal, is not helpful.
I’d argue that these kinds of stigma views divide Mad people. Much as happened with the civil rights movement in the U.S., it can be easy for the oppressor to turn us against each other, keep us attacking each other and recapitulate the pain and hatred we experienced on each other.
Many of our early intervention programs are built in this manner with this mentality. The root of cognitive therapy comes from a culture of privilege and may not be functional for those dealing with generational trauma and without financial support, those buried in oppression.
What if the institutional qualities of the mental health corridors fit the familiar experiences you experienced in an institutional high school? The familiarity of the ghetto community may speak to you and help you heal.
What’s worse is the imposed fidelity measures that denies the role of culture in such kinds of diverse contexts. While I do agree that cognitive therapy can be vitally important when people are in the stage of trying to socially rehabilitate and facing stigma, knowing when and how to use it in the process of therapy is important.