A Peek Inside the Modern Asylum

Katerina P.
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The psychiatric hospital of today might appear as a foreign, scary object to the mind who has never visited the institution. It represents the unknown, the territory that one is terrified of, but at the same time attracted to with natural human curiosity. Let’s be frank here: we want to know what is inside and who is “hiding” there.

In the eighteenth century, in Europe, many mental institutions called “asylums” were open to the public. In exchange for some entrance money, interested visitors could have a peek: they could stroll in the corridors and observe the patients inside. It was a popular destination by all accounts. People found “madness”—or rather, what is assigned to the term—interesting and irresistible.

Michel Foucault wrote about it extensively, presenting a picture of a typical Sunday morning in Paris for a middle-age couple. They wake up, have breakfast, and then go for a visit to a local asylum for entertainment. Doors were open to the eager public, and the asylums never lacked in visitors. It is indeed interesting, and probably more attractive than going to a theatre or the modern cinema. People aren’t acting there, and they are real.

William Hogarth’s 1735 engraving depicts visitors gawking at patients at Bethlehem Hospital, also known as “Bedlam.” © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Today, that same curiosity about manifestations of “madness” is satisfied via books or, more often, via movies. It isn’t by accident that such movies as Girl, Interrupted and A Beautiful Mind were such a big success: “madness” has always been fascinating, and will always attract and terrify the human mind at the same time.

But let’s look at the psychiatric institution of today. It isn’t by accident that doors to it are closed to the curious mind, and only those who are unlucky end up being inside, on the wrong side of the equation—being a patient. The psychiatrists are the ones who walk really free there, looking, observing, analyzing, and then administering the cocktail of modern drugs. We read some stories, we get some news, but it is all presented to us as “mental illness,” part of the bigger discourse on “mental health.”

These stories hide the truth of the modern psychiatric narrative: that real, nice people end up there, and the psychiatric experience is likely to ruin one’s life for good. The drugs they prescribe don’t help with anything, and the stigma which gets attached after one receives a label or diagnosis is forever a scarlet letter on one’s life CV.

I have been unfortunate enough to deal with the psychiatry from “inside” and thus, am an unfortunate witness to the horrors behind the machine. I am also an academic and thus, am interested in the narrative—how my own personal story becomes part of a bigger picture. My story is unique, as are many others, but we all become just statistics in the psychiatric tale. We are all “patients” and we are all “insane.”

The mental health narrative of today is the continuation of the history of the psychiatry, beginning with the age they call “enlightenment,” when the doors were closed to the curious, and only the patients and treating “doctors” were allowed inside. I am not sure it was done out of good will, because it banned the witnesses of the injustices happening there. It is really taking the truth out of the terrifying tale hidden in the modern mental health narrative. People are often held against their will inside these institutions, though their only “crime” is that they dared to have weird thoughts or hear voices.

The modern mental health narrative is the recycling of the psychiatric song to present it to us as something innocent, mundane and even good. Yes, we should think about the sanity of our minds, take care of our bodies, sleep, eat well, and exercise our bodies and minds. However, this tale that appears innocent hides the fact that it simply scares people into a pattern of normality. A pattern where everyone should be the same, behave the same way, and do the same things as everyone else: think about which car to purchase, where to spend the next holiday, and whether to swipe left or right on Tinder. Once you start questioning the so-called normality of student loans, paying mortgages, marriage, kids, gym membership and the like, you will exhibit “abnormal” behavior, I can guarantee you that. You will start questioning things and stop and wonder: Why are there so many homeless people on the streets? Why is Africa so poor? How can I think of the next holiday when there is so much poverty in my otherwise rich land?

Your weird thoughts will scare you, and you might become what they call “depressed.” Depression is definitely not an illness, but it is a fact. It is nothing else but a natural reaction of a mind that wants more from life than the boring tale of “normality.” If you dig deeper, you might even get onto the scale of what they call “bipolar,” and if you embrace your weird thoughts with zeal, and voices finally reach you (the real spirit world hiding behind our “normality” narrative disguised as “the age of reason and enlightenment”), then you might get the label of “schizophrenic.”

All these labels are just words invented by the twisted tale of psychiatry to deceive our minds and prevent us from thinking and behaving differently. There is no mental illness, and there never was. People simply get unwell, and bad things happen in life.

But the psychiatric institution of modern times, with its closed doors, lingers on top of our minds as the forbidden bad fruit that no one should touch, terrifying us and scaring us, because let’s be frank and honest here: no one wants to end up there. And not because one is afraid to become “ill” (we are all prone to “madness,” let me assure you), but because of the narrative of mental health.

Trump demonstrated the scariness of the narrative to perfection when he condemned all “mentally-ill” people. He showed how strong the stigma is and that the slogan “mental illness is like physical illness” is just words into the air. Trump demonstrated the real attitude toward people with “mental illness.” He simply doesn’t know who they are, and what is really taking place—behavior and thought control by the psychiatric institution.

And only a few of us know and see the truth.

The psychiatric institution is mostly an abstract body hanging over our head, sort of a bad headmaster telling us what to do and how to act—a behavioral control manager. It terrifies us with its promise of inflicting a label on the innocent mind, but at the same time, lures us for a peek inside.

Today we don’t have the possibility for a peek inside, but we remain, nevertheless, very curious. We do wonder what is taking place inside, who is held inside, and what it looks like. Mental health patients are your biggest celebrity story, hidden behind the bars of the psychiatric system, which doesn’t want to reveal its badly written script.

I was once inside and thus, am inviting you to have a look. I will take your hand, and encourage you to join me, on an exploration of the inside of the psychiatric institution.

Let’s open the door.

Once we manage it (and it isn’t easy as the doors are really locked), we proceed along a corridor. Psychiatric hospitals operate according to the principle of the panopticon, as Michel Foucault describes in his brilliant book, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. He tells us about the emergence of the modern prison system, operating according to the principle of surveillance. “He is seen, but he does not see; he is an object of information, never a subject in communication,” Foucault tells us, referring to the fact that in our current behavior surveillance system, we act like everyone else due to fear of being observed and punished if we do something wrong. The panopticon has a structure: you have a central vintage point through which you can see everything, scaring the subjects into compliance. The subject is always observed.

Modern psychiatry operates according to the same principle, and so do its facilities, such as mental health institutions. In each long corridor of its facilities you have a central point, where psychiatric nurses hold their watch. It is indeed a watch, and if you think that they provide care and show love, then you are wrong. Most of the time they write notes and if we glance inside the notes we will see the following: “Today M dressed more appropriately and was nice to the staff,” or “This morning G stopped his uncontrollable laughing and showed some insight into his behavior.”

Trust me, school is a piece of cake to pass in comparison to what is happening in the notes and observation techniques of the staff in psychiatric hospital, and none of them ever shows any insight or comprehension into their own idiocratic stance. They simply don’t know what they are doing and why, because of the system of the psychiatric establishment. Those who show any weird thought pattern or exhibit strange behavior should be put inside the mental health institution and be re-trained as to how to behave normally.

The nurses sit at their central point, visibly bored and annoyed. They don’t like the patients who come with constant demands, which are always the same and don’t change. “Can I go out, please?” “Can I have a bath?” “Can someone, please, take me on a walk?” “Can I call my friend R?” “When can I see the doctor?” “When will I be discharged?” These are the irritating demands of the patients, taking the attention of nurses away from their notes—and notes take most of their time and attention, because of someone out of their mind who invented psychiatry: it isn’t the patient that matters, but what is written about him/her in the notes. The notes are shown to the treating psychiatrist and stored on shelves, although no one will ever glance a second time into the books and volumes describing us, describing the behavior of those unfortunate enough to step outside the scales of normality.

But let’s move away from the central post and look at the room next to it. It is a room with a phone, where patients queue (when they are allowed) to make a call, and where the treating psychiatric consultant deals with the patients, if other rooms are occupied. It is a small, stinky room, with a closed window, where both the consultant and his patients feel suffocated and mal-at-ease. The doctor doesn’t want to be there, it is the patient who asks to see him again and again, with the same annoying demand as always: “When can I go home?” she asks.

You might think it is funny, but it isn’t funny at all for the patient on the wrong side of the equation. The power machine is firmly in the hands of the consultant psychiatrist and only he can decide on your fate. And it is indeed a fate: one day longer and the patient can be driven to such a despair that he will try to take his life. And if this happens, the cycle becomes much longer, because in that case, the patient is proclaimed as a risk to himself, and is kept behind the doors for much longer. Then it is just survival instinct that might save the patient and give her the strength to endure it all longer.

Let’s walk away from the room and have some fresh air—in the garden that is usually present (thank god) in the facilities. The garden is used for the patients to have a cigarette and to pray. It is here that most interesting conversations take place, away from the observational post of the nurses. It is here that they dare to quickly exchange their own thoughts, such as sharing the voices they hear and the visions they see. It is here that they also get advice from someone who is more advanced in their knowledge of the panopticon, such as, “Don’t say all this to the doctor.” One needs to comply, behave as normal as possible, and not reveal one’s mind to the psychiatrist. Following the rules also means being extra-nice to the nurses who are not nice back to you, wearing presentable clothes, and acting like you are at an office meeting, definitely not as if in the hospital, oh no. I feel much more relaxed in my working place than I ever was inside a psychiatric hospital.

The psychiatric hospital of today, to conclude my narrative, is a panopticon, a modern prison for the daring mind and for weird behavior. We had a small peek, but in reality, it is much more distressing for the one who is being observed. In some hospitals they have cameras in the rooms to supervise the “patient,” and in some establishments, there are people who stay there for years, injected with drugs against their will, losing all hope and desire for living.

It isn’t funny, it isn’t entertaining, and it is bad.

But all who are lucky enough not to end up there march past this monstrosity, oblivious to the torture of the mind happening behind those walls.

***

Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

29 COMMENTS

  1. I would not call psychiatric institutions of today asylums. Such was an illusion created way back when, but it never had much to do with reality. People are, as a rule, just as in the case of other prisons, safer outside of their walls. The use of the term asylum is a result of the paternalism behind the effort to expand such institutions, “our imprisonment, torture, etc., of you is for your own good”, a paternalism that is still with us. Institutional confinement, the “asylum” system, would have had a much harder time expanding if it were not couched in the terminology of, as it is today, “care”. The kind of “care” that gives one pause to express such sentiments as “with friends like these who needs enemies”.

  2. Ekaterina, THANK YOU.
    In all it’s ugly content, you shine through beautifully.

    A psych ward is nothing but a prison, just as psychiatry are nothing but guards.
    I won’t elevate them to the title of judge, since they could never be a just judge,
    because of their lack of reasonability.
    Guards however, like the hallway nurses just get to tattle. Tattle on nothing. Nothing to report.
    If nothing is to see, if they feel like it, they can make it up.

    One has to remember. The ones stuck forever in the system is them. Each nurse, each shrink, stuck in delivering nasty teenage type gossip.
    It is humiliating for them. None of them can ever truly discuss their jobs with others outside, because if they do, all the nasty stuff has to be omitted.

    So you see, they are the ones really living the most unauthentic lives.
    They can’t even live one good life in secret, because they know about their lies, their games.

    And we don’t even have to visit the asylum, to know their misery.

    It’s so great to read your account, your story. I value it much.
    Be happy that you never have to abuse others, just to keep a job.

  3. I applaud your accurate portrayal of the modern psychiatric hospital. I am glad you are free to write about your experiences.

    You state “in some establishments, there are people who stay there for years, injected with drugs against their will, losing all hope and desire for living” Our loved one is among those “who stayed for years in institutions, injected with drugs against their will” and I am in daily contact with other mothers of people who belong in this category, in various stages of healing.

    In our situation, it took one psychiatrist to admit that the system had failed our daughter miserably. He made a valiant attempt to wean her off several medications while in an institution that still greatly restricted her liberties.

    The damage of institutionalization and forced drugging can be very deep and more than some families are prepared to deal with. My heart goes out to families who want to do right by a loved one but are forced to rely, almost completely on public health services, while supporting that loved one’s recovery from psychiatric harm and abuse. Though my daughter is free from living in an institution at last, a fact for which I am very glad, the challenges of keep her safe from further psychiatric harm and abuse is at times, enormous.

    She cannot always state her preferences. I sometimes serve as her memory, based on what she told me in times of greater clarity. She has no psychiatric advance directive in place. It also hurts greatly to talk about advance care issues with her.

    Daily living is challenging. Sometimes, rather than relishing her liberties, she regresses to the survival tactics the she acquired from years of hospitalization and forced drugging and obsesses on conformity to rules that she no longer has to obey. She is no longer comfortable in her inner most place; the cathedral of her mind was shattered by accusations of sickness and abnormality and by drugs that caused psychiatric symptoms, for which apologies were never issued. She periodically dives deeper inside herself to avoid harm, making it even harder for family members to relate to her.

    Sometimes, she loses the ability to communicate. Language itself, one of the hallmarks of humanity, can be impaired by the culture of disempowerment and objectification in these institutions. Tellingly, her loss of communication is always chalked up as a symptom of her ‘illness’ never as the result of psychiatric harm and oppression.

    Sometimes the drugs and shock can physically damage the part of the brain where language itself lives. This iatrogenic harm is callously referred to as a part of her original illness. Her subjective experience of being harmed in the hospital is never discussed in clinician appointments. Sometimes, she reverts to mutism. Sometimes, she uses sign language. Sometimes she is incoherent and speaks in highly symbolic styles that are difficult to decode. On a deep level, I think she has not lost hope for herself, but she has lost hope in convincing mental health professionals that the way they approach her kills hope and since her survival tactics for the last ten years have evolved mainly to cope with oppressive mental health professionals, it is frighteningly difficult for her to imagine herself in a state of full emancipation. This would require the demolition of a toolbox that took years to build and the creation of new coping skills.

    Thankfully, she never justified her state sanctioned torture with any statements and/or actions that could be construed as suicidal or homicidal. she did share that her hope lay in ‘outliving the mental health system” which I interpreted as the opossum’s strategy of survival, ability to feign death until a predator loses interest. This has worked to a point.She is simultaneously thrilled that the mental health system is rapidly losing interest in her but she is also frightened.

    Her ten years of being highly restricted has destroyed her social network. She was finally granted the right to live with us after years of being denied that choice but our family is no substitute for a network of friends and allies.

    All of the mental health services she receives currently are ‘voluntary’. I use the term voluntary to remind folks that after years of forced drugging and institutionalization, how voluntary can it really be to pick up a monthly refill of dope that one’s brain has become habituated to? After years of being observed and talked about as a passive object in an artificial environment, she lost all hope in convincing mental health professionals of the appropriateness and feasibility of her living a ‘drug free lifestayle’ and she uses the term ‘med compliant’ on a near daily basis to justify why folks should treat her with compassion and sympathy.

    Furthermore, she seemed to have lost, at least temporarily, the ability to govern even the smallest, most simplest of daily activities without a great deal of support. This is called institutionalization.

    This is the most unforgiveable act of modern psychiatry, by building a pseudo-scientific foundation of lies about some people having genetic abnormalities or permanent chronic brain conditions, the stage was set for zero, non-medical non-harmful interventions for people in distress, effectively lowering the threshold for these unfortunate individuals to lose all of their civil liberties. This has a crushing effect on many sensitive and freedom loving individuals

    Now, despite the plethora of survivor narratives confirmed by scientific studies, showing the harm of drugging and shocking people in distress, psychiatry has painted itself in a corner. They have chosen to dig in deeper by refusing to acknowledge that the enormity of harm by the medical model approach and what challenges this has laid at the feet of society, as survivors age out in the system.

    The vast majority of folks being treated in the mental health system are suffering from potentially irreversible injuries to their brains, central nervous systems, and other organs, leading many to early graves and undignified, premature placements in nursing homes where they will inevitably be subjected to rampant medical discrimination because of their psychiatric labels/histories. The probability is that most, like my daughter will never see a full restoration of their rights, liberty, independence. They will never receive an apology or financial restitution for the reckless harm that was done to their bodies. Still, as a mother, it is my responsibility to convey optimism, not despair to my children. So, I look for the best in people. While secretly remaining a skeptic, I look for psychiatrists to take full responsibility for their harmful past actions and I imagine families and communities taking creative measures to protect their most vulnerable from further harm in the mental health system. This will require nothing less than a full scale revolution. I remain hopeful on this account.

    I have resolved to remain in solidarity with my daughter and support her efforts to resist, to the greatest extent possible, those services which are delivered in a manner that diminishes, while being open to services which empower or at least do not harm. She is dependent on the system for her dope. Until there is a revolution, this culture does not support her withdrawal from harmful psychiatric drugs. We are working people of modest means, and not likely to have access to expensive private services for help in this regard, now or in the near future. Yet I hope.

    Even though every fiber of my being longs to speak truth to power at every possibility, I have learned to cultivate duplicity, in order to avoid pissing off some sadistic public mental health professional who could stick a foot out in order to trip my daughter even further. So much easier to scapegoat the chronically ill, refractory, or ‘treatment resistant’ patients, than to discuss, let alone take responsibility for iatrogenic harm.

    People like my daughter may never fulfill their pre-torture potential due to a combination of permanent, physical injury and the difficulty of finding mentors and therapists who are able and/or willing to make effective and consistent services available to the most psychologically and economically harmed. But as a mother, my role is to protect my family against all odds.

    Our villages have been destroyed by capitalism, greed, and oppression. Psychiatry is a symptom of a far bigger threat to humanity than we ever imagined. As David Oaks declared, ‘Normal behavior is killing the planet!” Psychiatry is a form of social control that is being used to kill the most sensitive among us, often children. Our children are canaries in the coalmine. Before our little fledglings make it back to the surface with their message of ‘danger!’ psychiatry colludes with family members to kill them, all out of the best of intentions, of course. I don’t know what the future holds but the survivor movement with its history of providing authentic peer support has the most helpful road map I can think of. I hope that we can set about the rebuilding of our villages that have been destroyed with this road map.

    • Hospital is perhaps an even less appropriate word to use for psychiatric detention centers than asylums. These people, our prisoners, are, goes conventional wisdom, guilty, in the absence of any crime, of misbehaving, so if we treat them as “sick” eventually we will get them to “behave”. Such is the hope of the mental health (sic) enforcement community anyway.

    • Madmom, powerful account. And thank you for this.
      I hope you realize that it is people like you that psychiatry is ashamed to face. Their seeming ‘confidence’ in their beliefs is an act. It is an act they cannot admit to.

      “Psychiatry is a symptom of a far bigger threat to humanity than we ever imagined. As David Oaks declared, ‘Normal behavior is killing the planet!” Psychiatry is a form of social control that is being used to kill the most sensitive among us, often children.”

      Psychiatry became the illuminator of how there is no normal.

      • I would like to know what psychiatrists really think when they are not maintaining a professional facade. The dissident psychiatrists are the exception and not an indicator of where the profession is going. I would like to know how shrinks discuss their difficult patients in private. With contempt? compassion? consternation? Severely iatrogenically harmed patients probably consumer many of their private conversations. They rarely hold their colleagues to task for iatrogenic harm. How do they refuse to see what is front of them?

        How can their training wipe out their eyes and ears? How can they chalk up every complaint by a patient, no matter how inelegantly conveyed or inarticulate to by a symptom of illness or anosognosia?

        I would also like to know how they speak to colleagues in private chat rooms. Some chat rooms organized and administered by emergency care docs are very casual and I was able to follow some eye opening conversations in which they spoke of their preferred treatment (Haldol) on unruly patients with an astonishing lack of compassion. Some comments were abusive. I have overheard conversations about my loved one between docs in ER hallways that I was not intended to hear leading me to believe abusive, unprofessional conduct is commonplace. Doctors are abused in their training and residency requirements. That is why the rate of suicide among docs is so high. They continue the cycle of abuse on their patients.

        • I would say from experience that condescension is the most common attitude. The “professionals” feel like they’re being helpful and want appreciation no matter what they do or how bad it is for the client. Unappreciative or difficult clients are most definitely made fun of by some, and it is difficult for those who are uncomfortable with it to speak up. (Though I used to do so a lot of the time.) The truly successful professionals were the ones who saw the clients as just other humans not very different than anyone else, except as to the particulars of their personal circumstances. But they were in the minority. Not saying that a lot of professionals didn’t care at all, it’s just that so many viewed the clients through a lens of inferiority or failure. They often viewed the clients with pity rather than true compassion. There were plenty who did not, but again, they appeared to me to be in the minority.

          • It is a stage, where they all are actors.
            Very much like politicians.
            I think in their youth, when they were guided, or chose psychiatry, it was done so, without insight into themselves or humanity.
            At some point though, misinformation (lies) becomes too obvious. It is then that the psychiatrist has to become an actor. And that is wholly unsatisfying and are left to realize they are stuck in their crummy jobs.
            They take this out on everyone around them.
            A lot of shrinks owe their family, that family honor, where they know they have to keep being a “doctor”.

            This happens even with real doctors. More and more they are disgruntled and it’s really fake science and the tangled web that doctors and pretend doctors created.

            When psychiatry entered the real medical specialty, it went awry.
            So much ego and so much family honor, everyone sold their soul.
            It’s a shame really.

          • The people that the Church rejected for becoming priests..

            The ‘celebacy’ of psychiatry is that they are denied any right to heal, and are stuck in purgatory forever chasing their own tails, using one of the oldest tricks in the Book to conceal their inadequacies. Drugging extreme states into compliance and calling it medicine.

            For this they obtain the external status, but internally they long for the closeness of a ‘wife’, and some become devaint abusers as a result. Excusing their abuse and being a “character flaw” or ‘personality disorder’.

            And when one considers that the power that used to be assigned to the Church by the State has been transferred to psychitary and psychiatrists, is it any wonder they find it easy to conceal their rampant abuses? I’m sure it will no doubt be exposed eventually, with lots of “it was them not me” and “look, they were much worse than me”.

        • madmom,
          what they say to each other, their victims including family, is not real. You will not find reality within psychiatry, nor even in the ‘real’ medical specialty.
          Politics is not “real” either.
          Even if you find one that leans closer to you in a seeming alliance, it never stops being about themselves, and protecting their honor and jobs. Trust me, they do not want to be “found out” by peers.
          And if they are the “good psychiatrist”, they pretend to their peers that it is simply a way of getting “into their patients”.
          So all in all, they are in constant unreality, which of course continues within their “personal” lives. Although not sure if it can ever be personal if you exist in a bubble of lies.
          It is grossly unfair to live in a constant act and then pretend that “patients” are in delusion. That actors guild that parades in buildings, are absolutely not “doctors” lol.

          To be a real person in an act is enough to drive one into anguish. I no longer like compassion even, if that compassion keeps me in beliefs that are not good for me.

          The naturally nasty ones survive and some thrive through oppressing others. The others will quit before they become a shrink and a few decide to exit instead of facing honor loss.

        • Guilt can lead to suicide too, Madmom.

          It’s either denial (I am actually helping them feel better, they aren’t fully human, they’re only fit for asylums anyhow) searing the conscience like the Big Baddies do (the kind who demonize their “mistakes” or victims on major media outlets), or succumb to guilt and have a breakdown. Or kill yourself. Maybe both.

    • Your account is so so horrifying and, of course, tragic. The content of your comment here could easily become an article itself. Thank you for your account.

      This sentence stood out to me: “Our villages have been destroyed by capitalism, greed, and oppression.”

      I use the phrase “abusive systems”. Or as Bruce Levine would say “authoritarians”. In my opinion, at some level, we are all involved in some type of abusive system — whether it is personal interactions, professional (such as a job or corporation), religion or other structural, societal institution. We all develop coping mechanisms for such things as best we can, though if the abuse keeps growing, people pay the price.

      And then we label the person who “wakes up” to those abuses (or breaks under the weight) as “mentally ill”.

      We act as though that greed and oppression has no adverse effect. Who is really delusional?

      • I can only speak for myself, but it wasn’t anything so grand or lofty for me.

        I sank under the weight of years of bullying and two periods of homelessness as a child. Got so depressed and anxious I sought help from a shrink as a friend suggested.

        Went on Anafranil for three weeks and snapped. Got put on a cocktail till I escaped after 22 years. Not sure I can ever quit grieving. The damage is real.

        Stories like those of Mad Mom’s daughter don’t cheer me up. (Nor should they.) But they remind me not to wallow in self pity. Many are worse off than I.

        Iatrogenic brain damage is the remedy. The only treatment Psychiatry offers. Its answer for everything.

      • I didn’t mean to convey hopelessness by laying out what it is like for our family as a result of my daughter’s long period of forced drugging. On the contrary, there is a lot of hope. When one wishes to paint a full picture of a particular set of challenges, one risks painting a picture of hopelessness which is not how I feel. We take every day as a gift. As one who finds out that one only has a short period left to live, we find joy in the small things and relish the tiny acts of kindness that has come to characterize our healing as a family. Even on the darkest days, there is at least one spark, one bright spot, one tiny prayer answered, one baby step, one little flicker of joy and those baby steps are not limited to the person who is the ‘center of concern’. Theya apply to everyone in our family. Like many, we are learning that what we call ‘mental illness’ doesn’t originate in a vacuum as geneticists and brain researchers would have us believe. It originates in the qualities of human connections, personal relationships and the power imbalances that exist in communities which can originate in the smallest social unit, the family. And when those flickers of insights and those baby steps occur, you can’t imagine how strong the ripples are in our family. From the outset, we decided to stick together as a family; a difficult decision. When tragedy befalls a family, often it destroys the very fabric that upholds family life. When the narratives held by family members collide, as so often happens to families under great stress, We chose to stay together, all of us wounded together. At first, we didn’t see a lot of daily benefits from that other than the economic sharing of resources. Now we are starting to see other emotional and psychological benefits. It’s not rocket science but it takes a lot of faith.

  4. Thank you for your article and account. It is the people who experience such injustice and cruelty whose voices are so very important.

    I love the paragraph about depression, bipolar and schizophrenia and the “real spirit world”.

    In 1998, I endured what I call a severe stress breakdown and ended up traumatized worse by the Employees Assistance Program at the Fortune 100 company I was working for and by the mental health industry.

    Mine was a very spiritual experience — which of course the psychiatrists took no stock in. Fortunately, I recognized the additional trauma that was added after the initial breakdown. I was finally fired from the company (after twice meeting their medical leave requirements). There were four termination dates floating around. For the following year, I concentrated myself on healing and recovery. It took a lot longer to heal than I would have thought, but I did it. A year after the initial break, I found a counselor who actually listened to me and helped me embrace my experiences. She didn’t like me calling it a breakdown. She preferred “breakout” or “breakthrough”.

    I have long thought that if the professionals merely treated the trauma that a person may be feeling through a major break, they would probably be more successful in treatment.

      • So true. I have long said that it is the people who make these journeys that touch on realms beyond this one who will lay out the landscape of what those journeys are like.

        Of course everyone’s experiences are unique and yet in some cases, there are possible overlaps. I have learned that when people talk about something being “more real than real” that they are most likely having a spiritual mystical experience rather than a “mental illness”.

        That is why I love the quote from Albert Einstein, “Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.” If what we call reality is illusion, then that raises significant questions as to that experience that is “more real than real”.

        Thanks again for your voice.

  5. I make a connection between the moving of public executions to private places and the closing of the asylums to the public in the 18th Century.

    Certainly my government has found benefits in concealing what they are doing from the people who elect them. Covering up has become quite the art form these days. Is it not better to terrorise the public with the ‘unseen’ horrors, rather than expose your methods to public scrutiny?

    I note my government recently passed a Euthanasia Act as a result of it being what the public wanted (more than 85% was the claim, though no data ever put forward for the claim). Given this line of reasoning, surely we will be returning to public executions really soon, because it is the case that this is what the public always wanted. Or is it the case that they were just “pulling our legs”?

    I have on many occasions offered to show ‘human rights activists’ that they don’t need to travel to Syria to observe human rights abuses, they need only visit their local mental institution. For some reason they prefer not to, and maintain their false belief that these abuses are committed only by people ‘over there’. I can only assume this was the attitude of the German people when the National Socialists began with their ‘delousing’ program. The “it might be best I don’t know about that” attitude taken by our police in these times of great change.

    The nurses notes are nothing more than gossip and slander, and should be viewed as such. They are twisting their own palm fiber for later use.

    Thanks for the glimpse inside though Ekatarina.

      • Thanks for the reply Ekatarina

        I was thinking about your comment and realised that it’s the changing meanings around ‘normality’ that are allowing these people to maintain that vantage point. The “double think” described by Orwell in 1984. This whole COVID situation highlighting it for all to see (or not see according to how well they have learned to double think lol).

        Watch as we are presented with the “New Normal” over the coming months. Try keeping a record of the “Old Normal” lol. I’ve taken pictures of signs warning of the punishments for travelling over the boundaries that have been put in place (dare I call them ‘checkpoints’?).

        On the battle between good and evil I must say the Devil sure has good taste in suits, cars, boats, properties, ……. and all provided for via the souls he misleads into the fire? “Just one little pill and it’s all yours” 🙂

        • @boans,
          you are spot on about the devil having a good taste in bars. I visited his residence in one of my lucid-dreaming and if you would like to know more, check my blog http://www.russianpatient.com for more information. My last post talks about the devil’s ball.
          The new ‘normality’ is a new ideology where no ‘daring’ thoughts or behaviour are allowed, and I do fear for all remaining souls trying to resist the doctrine. If it’s not the psychiatry, then it is stigma, but they go hand in hand, of course, marching in unison.

  6. If you argue globally then asylum is the place for magnetic field feealers, consequently, a people has the appropriate mechanism for that magnetic field. But we should not forget that in a psychiatric hospital it is convenient to treat bad teeth. Fortunately, this service is free there.

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