Monday, September 15, 2014

Don't blame the victim about my relationship - partner who doesn't believe in mold illness

At various times, a lot of people have expressed discontent at my being in my relationship or at my not having a specific plan or steps to take if I wanted to leave the relationship.

(I have the same “plan” anyone with environmental illness has - if you find that you really have to leave a housing situation that has been working for you up until then, see if you can get out of any lease you are in, then take stock of what options are available at that time - depending on when it happens, the weather, rental availability, and your preferences and needs might be different. It’s hard to plan for the future).

I just want to say this reeks of blaming the victim - to blame me for being in a relationship where someone doesn’t believe me fully.

I’ve chosen to be in this relationship because on the whole, it has been incredibly beneficial to me.

I’ve had support in going through a lot of things that would have been hard alone, we have a mutually caring and supportive relationship where we are understanding to each other since we both deal with kind of bad childhoods and serious health issues (although different kinds of health issues), I’m able to cook for two - which encourages me to cook more nutritious food and save on economies of scale, I pay about $500 less per month on rent and bills since we split it, I have help driving places since I’m terrible at driving during Lyme treatment which might be saving my life (since I can be terrible at making split-second decisions), I’ve gotten a lot of help with “adult” things I didn’t know how to do like registering my car and dealing with insurance when getting my car repaired when it was hit while parked. 

It’s really not my fault that WebMD and the Mayo clinic haven’t come out to say that mold hypersensitivity/CIRS are real, which is pretty much what it would take for my boyfriend to believe it.

It’s not my fault that I’m dating someone who’s a bit skeptical due to his own past and who’s an INTP.

When the rubber hits the road, my partner has been willing to throw away expensive items including his old bed and winter coat, and he has $1000 of books in boxes. 

Sometimes I deal with his strange process of coming to terms with mold, which reminds him of his mom’s mental illness and is hard for him to accept, since to him it “feels” like someone with intractable mental illness. 

But it’s not my fault. 

Sometimes people stay in relationships where they aren’t fully believed because on the whole, they still get a lot from the relationship.

This doesn’t mean they are making a bad choice. 

Leaving the relationship over this issue alone could cause lots of severe problems for me including potential lack of access to housing, and potentially large expenses when I’m already struggling financially from having to move a lot and get rid of things due to mold illness.

In the past, marriages were about supporting each other as a household. I have that and it’s extremely valuable. This part where everyone has to be perfect is a little much. Maybe you can do that when you’re doing fine financially and your life is going great, but when you are struggling health-wise and financially, it’s wonderful to have a partner, even if that partner isn’t perfect.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering what is cool to do in the world if you are not sick

I realize that when you've been sick for years, you kind of forget what there is out there to be healthy for.

I just stopped in Toastmasters, and while I couldn't stay more than five minutes because it was slightly too moldy, it was interesting to be around actual professional people in a building downtown.

I am also remembering it's fun to go to concerts, go on trips, eat out, stuff like that.

It takes a little priming the pump and doing things before I feel totally ready to remind me what is worth improving my health in order to do.

I rarely get much health unless it's for a specific purpose - my body doesn't really give it to me unless I have a goal or something I want to do in mind, and then somehow I figure out what I need to do in order to reach that goal.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Activism

I'm realizing that almost everyone ought to be an activist....

The main reasons not to be an activist are:
1) If you benefit greatly from power. If you're one of the (bad) Koch brothers, for example.
2)If you are unaware of what's going on. If you don't read enough to know.

I almost said "If you are dealing with way too much" could be a reason not to be an activist, but there's research that trying to improve things can be empowering, and it might help you to feel better.

Disillusionment with therapy industry and how it blames the victim

I am just now finishing Final Analysis by Jeffrey Masson. I think it was even better than Against Therapy, since it went into his personal experiences more.

It makes me really sad to see that a large part of the psychotherapy industry was founded on, and became successful because of, blaming the victim. And unfortunately, the industry perpetuates this orientation.

In the original example, Freud chose to blame the victim (women who had been abused) and say that they'd been imagining the abuse rather than to uphold his original understanding that they had actually been abused, since believing them and standing with them threatened his (and analysis's) professional success.

That's all I can say. Blaming the victim makes good money and earns power and enables industries to be paid, whereas standing with the oppressed in solidarity makes enemies, and these people don't tend to have a lot of money.

I don't think psychotherapists have really been allies to people with contested illness, except in cases where those therapists had other reasons (e.g., personal experience, having had the disease or known people with it) to understand and ally themselves with the patients.  In fact, therapists have sometimes worked very strongly against patients, putting them in hospitals, pressuring them to take psych drugs, telling families they have various psychiatric diagnoses, denying their suffering and their sanity, etc.

It's good business to side with rich parents (even people who have good health insurance are likely rich) who can afford to have their children in therapy, and to participate with them in an effort to "correct" the children from their beliefs in chronic Lyme, CFS, ME, etc.

I saw firsthand how someone I knew with chronic Lyme was forced by his family to see a therapist who said he was instead schizophrenic. When he switched and found a therapist who'd had chronic Lyme herself and who believed him, the family was up in arms and said this therapist wasn't helping him, that she was insufficiently trained, and that he was going to have to go back to the therapist who sided with him. I think the first therapist was aware that his continued business from this person as a patient depended on his ability to please the parents, who would sometimes meet with him on their own without their child there.

It's good business to side with whomever is paying or choosing the care.

I had this doubting of contested illness happen myself, even in a relatively benign time of seeing a couples therapist recently, where he went along with the profession and proposed that my mold and Lyme symptoms were actually something else - my expression of a need for control, the way I was expressing trauma, etc. Bullshit.

It's interesting how "mental illness" can be used in a witch hunt. Anyone who doesn't go along can be called mentally ill. Masson himself, in a very illustrative example, was called mentally ill and even threatened with being committed to a psychiatric hospital for expressing disagreement with psychotherapy tenets in a presentation. It's a house of cards held up by everyone's needs to uphold it for their own professional success, as demonstrated in Final Analysis by how anxious everyone gets when anything about psychotherapy is criticized or questioned.

- - -

I had always thought it odd how assiduously therapists seem to want to make referrals or recommendations for ANYONE who needs a therapist, even people they hardly know. For example, my boyfriend's group therapist gave him a referral for a therapist for me to see. But wait - this therapist has never met me! He's only heard about me tangentially. Why does he feel that he can refer me to someone "good" for me?

I used to think it was simply that there are lots of bad therapists out there, and the good ones wanted to make sure other people had the benefit of good treatment.

However, I realized from reading about therapy that a major reason therapists must be so eager to make referrals is that they benefit professionally from doing so. They have their therapist friends who refer patients to them - patients from whom they can make perhaps $120-$150 a week for seeing them for 50 minutes. They want to keep the good will going by referring patients to these therapists.

I feel very betrayed that therapists would make these referrals under the guise of looking out for patients (which might be part of it), without mentioning that they are doing something self-serving by referring. It's a form of networking or paybacks for them.

It feels like a betrayal of trust, and a lack of interest in the patient's well-being, that therapists would rather refer someone to a therapist who will make a good professional relationship for them, than help the client to find a therapist who would simply be good for them.

To coach someone in how to find a good therapist, a therapist might tell them to try several therapists before picking one, to know what they are mainly looking for, to try to speak to therapists about the way they work for free before paying for a session, etc. However, instead they say, "Leave it to me. I'll call around (to my therapist network) and find someone."

What's worse, the therapists usually come out seeming so "good" and "selfless" for taking the time to call around and make a referral - as though they are acting like a free therapist search service, with their knowledge of the practitioners in the area. However, I'm coming to see that they are pretty much using patients for their own networking.

It's also interesting that therapists tend to get their feathers ruffled if someone they are seeing reports that they or someone close to them has started seeing a different therapist who wasn't referred by the original therapist.

My boyfriend's group therapist was actually upset that he had started seeing a couples therapist with me that wasn't referred by him. He expressed doubt about this person and wanted to make a referral to someone he knew. Forget that the couples therapist we'd found was working well for us at the time - it wasn't someone the group therapist could benefit from. It was a missed opportunity that one of his clients was engaging in therapy from which he wasn't earning any professional goodwill.

It's also interesting how therapists tend to create new demand, similar to marketers who are blamed for creating demand by making people feel insufficient. They tend to treat problems that brought the person into therapy as though they are much more serious and long-term than the person originally realized. They also might suggest that the person get other types of therapy - e.g., join group therapy as well as individual therapy, or get a different type of therapy in addition. Also, when they hear of or encounter other members of the issue, like mothers, partners, families, etc. - therapy is the solution for them too! These people should be referred to therapy as well! Also, when a couple goes to therapy, individual therapy might be recommended for one or both members of the couple.

Therapy is designed to generate demand. Therapy is thought to be the solution to all life problems. It's interesting how many parents of children with contested illness see therapy as just as important, if not more important, than physical treatment of the diseases. From a biological point of view, this makes no sense - I haven't heard of any patients who recovered from these serious diseases from therapy. But from the point of view of therapy and its history, it makes perfect sense. Throughout history, therapy has "received" people, including children, who were at odds with their society, whether because of being strong-willed women in a time when it was not acceptable, because of claiming they were abused or that bad things were going on, or because of having diseases that various institutions would like to erase, and therapy has blamed these people and made things convenient for people in power, thus cementing its own power as an institution.

Anyway, at the end of the day, it's a powerful industry that's become powerful by aligning itself with power. What else is new.



Monday, September 8, 2014

How therapy is like drugs/the pharmaceutical industry

Therapy is often promoted as the opposite of drugs, as in, patients should receive fewer drugs and get more therapy.

However, the more I learn about it, the more I'm seeing that therapy could be considered similar to drugs/the pharmaceutical industry.

Here are some parallels:


o   Can be beneficial but is not automatically beneficial.
o   There is a profitable industry promoting it.
o   It has not been around forever but has risen in prominence according to social factors (e.g., medical education, WWII)
o   It makes money.
o   It is used more because of insurance coverage (collusion?)
o   Like with vaccines, questioning it is supposed to be taboo.
o   It can cause side effects or even severe problems (such as forced hospitalization), but these are glossed over, not studied, or otherwise hidden.
o   Overall, many people benefit because of it in observable ways, but many people are harmed in ways that are often more diffuse and harder to trace back or lay blame (e.g., do people kill themselves because of psych drugs or just being depressed?). Social factors and media coverage can result in the underestimation of blame and damage caused by it. (e.g., the benefits of chemo vs. the harms)
o   It is good to see it as a last resort or kickstart, but think twice about relying on it long-term to fill in for other things that are not present in your life, since dependence may be a risk. Even while using it as a kickstart, work on changing your lifestyle so it will not be needed.
o   The industry likes to promote its product as a good thing, to make all people into potential “patients” to expand its reach.
o   The industry tries to make it seem like partaking of the product makes someone responsible – they are doing everything they can to treat themselves!
o   Treatment is sometimes used for control, to control people whose nature is uncomfortable for others (e.g., ADD drugs, mental health drugs, therapy) 

In the long-run, the existence of these insitutions (therapy and pharmaceutical) can mean that less attention (both personally and at an institutional level) is funneled toward other methods, such as diet, friendship, communication, one’s own resources in one’s network, social change, since people are expected to just take a drug or see a therapist if their life is out of order

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Finding ways to benefit from setbacks

One of the things that helps me to be a survivor, which I learned from my dad, is to, whenever I have a setback or bad experience, find ways that it can make my life better than if it hadn't happened.

I tend to go through my own stages of grief:

1) Resistance: But things were fine just a minute/day/week ago! Sometimes with one small mistake, like trying to wash a moldy item, I go from one situation (house is clean) to another (contamination, washer is contaminated, other problems).

2) Being really sad it happened

3) Checking out whether I'll be able to sleep, one of my main concerns, since contaminations or various other problems can make me unable to sleep

4) Finding ways that I can improve the situation. Is there anything I can do that has any impact? How can I experiment safely to see if anything helps?

5) Repeating whatever helps

6) Hopefully learning something new and helpful from the experience. For instance, I learned after they did carpet cleaning at my apartment and I couldn't use the elevator that I enjoy taking the stairs (we are on the 5th floor) and I get in shape from doing that.

That period when I am just starting to see that there are things I can do that help the situation, or designing my new protocols by learning how things work now that the mistake has happened, is a really wonderful period full of hope and learning.

It really does help to think about how the hardships will make your life better. It helps to preserve hope and optimism about the future. It's really hard to feel like things could have been good but because of one small mistake they are now bad. It's much more comforting to frame it as a gift of learning and to get right back on the horse and try to make your life as good as it can be.





Being a survivor vs. therapy

I read Manufacturing Victims this morning.

In addition to many other interesting points, the author pointed out that there are some true victims who have been through very difficult experiences and that many of them are survivors and have shown resilience, even apart from getting psychological help.

That makes me think more about  being a survivor myself.... There have been countless times when I found myself in a very difficult situation, where something had gone very wrong or could go very wrong, and I had to pull myself out, often through nutrition, research, or finding out what exactly would reduce my physical problem.

That approach suggests an entirely different approach to problems. Rather than going to therapists, who at least for me have overlooked the things I've done to survive, and who will tend to portray a world where one's coming to terms with difficult, possibly untrue ideas is the main "work," - one can instead get good at surviving as an actual survivor.

That can involve a commitment to something larger that gives you something to survive for, learning about other survivors' approaches, etc.

In the case of health issues, being a survivor often means having excellent nutrition and using food therapeutically. It also means using brain exercises (such as relaxation) and such.

For me, what drives me to survive and to keep improving is:
  • I know I have a lot in me that I can write, in terms of books.
  • I like enjoying physical pleasure and feeling good, even if it's brief. 
  • I don't like being tortured physically. I don't like how it feels to react to mold, to be toxic, to have brain inflammation, etc., and I don't like being vulnerable - if something bad happens, I want to be in good physical shape to handle it.


Two very different approaches of psychology to illness - control vs. individual empowerment

I'm realizing there are two types of psychological approaches to illness that are so different they shouldn't even be grouped together.

1) If someone is "out of line," for example claiming to have a doubted illness, not working, sick, having MCS or mold sensitivities, then psychology is brought in as an instrument of social control, and the person is pronounced depressed, traumatized, bipolar, schizophrenic, or suffering from psychogenic disease.

You'll notice this - when people have a patient taken to therapy in hopes that the therapist will correct the patient. I've had partners tell me I needed a really serious, no-nonsense therapist who would fight back when I denied that my physical illness was all in my head and who would convince me at last to give in - that my symptoms were only emotional and not physical.

2) The other kind of psychological approach is when people simply use tricks and practices that other patients have found helpful for reducing symptoms or stress, such as EFT, trauma releasing exercises, Gupta amygdala retraining, Reverse Therapy, etc. This is great, and often empowering for patients, since even the most expensive ways of doing these aren't often that expensive in the long run. You can do lots of these with no or little cost, just by learning about them online or in library books.

I object to psychology and psychiatry being used as an instrument of social control, at the beck and call of other institutions who decide what are "real" illnesses and who then hand over "criminals" (those who think they have non-real illnesses) for psychiatric punishment. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

David Smail and social power in illness

This line changed me a little:

“accepting that social power flows through us and we shouldn’t blame ourselves for our situation or how we feel”

from this review: http://figuraleffect.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/book-review-power-interest-and-psychology-by-david-smail-2005/

A therapy perspective would say that no matter what, I’m not living well enough unless I’m happy and adjusted.

Yet a social power analysis would say, I had social power, then I got into some very low social power situations, and it’s impressive I’m surviving them. I shouldn’t blame myself for having conditions that get denied for economic reasons, for being in debt, or for not having the same job conditions I did before (especially given the lack of disability accommodations).

“We shouldn’t blame ourselves for our situation or how we feel.”

It’s really cruel that psychology attempts to set the bar incredibly high for people to be able to fix all their distress on their own through their thinking! omg! not going to happen.

More aware of continued brain impairment, wanting to recover

My pre-illness IQ put me at a level where fewer than 1 in 1000 people had that kind of IQ, and even at college I had a hard time connecting with people like myself.

However, with Lyme disease, my IQ seems to be 10-20 points lower. But I still feel like I have some things in common with the high IQ people.

I don't feel like a normal person with (my original IQ - 20 points) IQ. I still feel odd. I feel like the only people like this are both very intelligent but a little brain-impaired.

Anyway. I really hope to cure my symptoms and get back to just being able to use my brain directly, because it would really help me career-wise and financially, and it would help to just be one thing again, rather than these strange combinations.

I don't think I was aware of the degree of continued brain impairment I have (some from illness, some probably from lack of challenges) until recently when I joined some high IQ groups after writing my book and realizing that socializing with similar people is important for high IQ folks.



Coming to terms with IQ drop

I've been thinking about IQ a little. From what I can tell, comparing past test scores and what I can do currently (on online tests) I think it's about 10-20 points lower than it used to be, even after lots and lots of treatment.

I might have written about this more in my book if I'd known what the difference was - I knew there had to be a difference, but I hadn't really pinned it down.

I suppose I'm still in the middle of some sort of treatment - trying to fend off this mystery coinfection, using cannabis (which is legal here) to help with that, which probably slows me down a little.

It's just disappointing to be deprived of that edge. I sincerely hope to get it back.

Partly, also, I haven't been that mentally challenged for six years. My work hasn't been that challenging. I've only recently started reading much again.

I think, like with most things, it's good to have a reason to develop the skill, and I want to rehabilitate my brain in order to be a better writer.

Writing as a vocation

Wow, this whole writer thing is just hitting me very strongly.

I'm glad to have a semi-anonymous blog where I can write without needing to make it perfect.

I'm realizing a few things:
  • I have a lot in common with other writers - a certain subset of writers.
  • It feels like discovering an orientation, like a sexual orientation, but in this case it's an expression orientation.
  • So many of the successful writers are male. 
  • I find it very disappointing that I might be taken less seriously in this field that I really care about simply for being female. 
  • I literally cannot bring myself to publish anything officially with a female name. I can't do it. I suppose it's partly that I suffer under the general misogyny that most people experience, and I still, no matter how much I know about feminism, have a hard time taking other women's writing seriously when they affix very feminine names to it (an effect that isn't as pronounced when they use their initials, such as the author of Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival, or when they have names I'm not accustomed to as female names, such as Shiri (Eisner) or Tana (Dineen). Some of it is just that from a linguistic standpoint, many female names are hard to take seriously - e.g. Stephanie - for the author of a serious book or article. I'm lucky that my female name isn't too flippant, and it's just the female version of an existing and common male name, and in some languages my name (with the same spelling) is actually a men's name. I wonder how men with that name feel about sometimes being thought to be female.
  • I realize how much barely-tapped truth is out there, that only a few people are brave enough to see and write about. Things that, once pointed out, are very obvious, but that many people would reject because they are so different from the common assumptions. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Against Therapy

I recently read the book, Against Therapy. It was great.

What it made me think is -

We've gotten accustomed to the idea of a person going to talk with an "expert" who reveals little or nothing about themselves, in private, and under certain other conditions (where the expert can literally have the person arrested and hospitalized).

We're accustomed to it, but the author calls into question whether it can be safe for the people who enter this situation.

As a thought experiment, imagine that for a few decades, a practice had evolved where it was thought to be therapeutic for people to undress in front of a caring expert and sit naked in the same room as this expert for an hour, perhaps to be photographed, etc. - and to do so once a week or so.

People claimed it was beneficial to them, and the people who offered this service prided themselves on their training in playing the role of the clothed observer/photograhper.

If patients were reluctant to undress or had problems with how the expert behaved in observing them, they'd be told that it just showed how much they needed the treatment - that they weren't already trusting enough to appreciate it happily.

Regardless of the intentions of the people involved, that's kind of a weird and potentially abuse-inviting situation. Even if all parties behave according to norms, it's still extremely vulnerable for the person who is naked when the other person is clothed.

I think at heart, that this is not that different from therapy. Clients/patients are "naked" in the sense that they are sharing private details, making themselves open to judgment, and even exposing themselves to the danger of encountering forced treatment or psychiatric confinement, while the "expert" is "clothed" - not sharing many details about himself or herself, in a protected role, and able to turn any criticism back on the patient (that if the patient is dissatisfied with anything the therapist says or does, their displeasure is taken to indicate some emotional problem on the part of the patient).

Can a set-up in which patients are more "naked" than the experts treating them ever be healthy or empowering for people?

Even on the first day when the patient walks in, the problems are already set up: one person is assumed to be the expert, the expert can decide whether to grant validity to the patient's thoughts or complaints, and the therapist is ready to look for any and all ways they can find that the patient might be making her life harder - in other words, how the patient's problems are her own fault. (That's all the therapist can really do that adds value beyond simply listening, which anyone can do. So the entire added-value of therapy is around telling the patient how she might be wrong.)

The set-up lacks some of the characteristics of more empowering organizations that build on solidarity and mutual respect and understanding, such as peer support groups, 12-step groups, talking to family or friends, etc.

The set-up of therapy also contains characteristics that can tend toward abuse, such as that the therapist depends on the patient feeling like she needs to be fixed in order to continue having income, therapists are reluctant to criticize one another or the profession due to needing referrals, the isolation of sessions, where typically no one is observing, etc.

After becoming aware of the psychiatric survivor movement, I've had a really hard time engaging in therapy. Even before that, there was always something that rubbed me the wrong way about it. It was clear to me that in order to engage "properly" and without friction with this type of set-up, I had to accept the idea that I was sick in whatever ways the therapists thought I was, I had to accept the therapists as blameless and their institution/practice as good, and I had to accept their judgments and give up on my own. Basically, I had to be very subordinate and almost give the therapists permissions to be my moral/sanity guides.

I, of course, was loathe to do this, and had many contentious sessions with therapists where I told them that I was in fact not interested in going to therapy, that I wanted to get away from their negative views of me, etc.

As an interesting example: I told therapists at age 15 that I was highly opposed to continuing to be in this situation where they saw me as sicker than I thought I was, and they didn't see the rest of my personality or the good in me - all they saw was this "object" of a mental illness (eating disorders) patient. I said that others' opinions can influence me, something that has been documented many times (think of the Pygmalion effect). However, when I told this to the therapist, she said I was exhibiting "delusional thinking," since no one can impact my behavior but myself, and that it was even more evidence that I needed to be in therapy.

Let's distill this: My opposition to the disempowering and harmful attitudes I encountered was in therapy was seen as even more of a reason for me to be in such a disempowering, sickness-promoting environment.

Anyway. I tried going to a couples therapist again earlier this year, thinking it would be different since this person was also interested in nonduality, went to an Eastern religion-focused therapy school, and it was couples therapy, so my partner would be coming along to help support me while I was there and to witness what was said.

However, it still ended up being bad. The therapist had some good educational hints about things we could consider trying. However, every now and then, the harm of therapy seeped through. His opposition to what I said I experienced from my illnesses, when he's not a specialist in these diseases and really doesn't have the training to make any judgment on what are possible symptoms for this disease. (He doubted many things that several other patients have corroborated that they experience.) The assumption that he "knows" what is causing the symptoms because he's had some degree of training in whatever "psychology" is. His proclamations that in his expert opinion, my symptoms were coming from trauma, not illness, and that he would be remiss not to mention that. His resistance to apologizing when I said how abhorrent this kind of talk was.

Perhaps it's my own fault for trying to go to a therapist, after learning about the larger framework in which they exist. It's overall a very abusive institution.






Monday, September 1, 2014

Escaping from hypnotizing institutions

I'm having an interesting experience lately.

It started when I read William Dier(impossible to spell)'s book, Excellent Sheep.

In a nutshell, for me, the book threw off the notion that college culture and institutional structure is holy or even passable - and it made me feel much better about simply disliking a lot of the culture and aims of my university.

For years, I had felt there must be something wrong with me, that I chafed at the elitism of my school, that I hated lots of the required courses, that I disliked a lot of the administration, that I abhorred the costs of elite education, hat I felt pushed into a conformist, elitist, role, and that there was little tolerance for quirky, morally-conscious, unusual, loner, dissident, radical, or simply unique people in that environment.

I used to think that the problem was ME - that if I were better, I'd have gotten a job in consulting or investment banking; I'd have fit into the college culture better; I'd love the school as much as some people apparently do.

But this book helped me to see that there might have been a lot *right* in my cognitive dissonance at college. And it helped me to reconnect with that alive part of me that existed before the elite college machine confounded love of learning and excellence with, well, an aspirational climb to the top, extraordinary expense, and a colonial mentality of fixing the world since they were so great.

I really just wanted to learn, to take difficult courses, to be around other smart people with similar priorities, and  to socialize with  people who were actually like me. But instead I got Elitism USA, and everything else described in Excellent Sheep.

Sometimes it takes someone to publicly state that the emperor has no clothes to make it ok to question large institutions that are seemingly beyond criticism.

Another large institution that's seemingly beyond criticism is therapy/psychology. What could be wrong with going to a caring person who gives you attention, who's trained to help you see your blind spots, and who helps you to live better??

Well, a lot could be wrong. You're turning yourself over to an institution that historically has been used for power and control, has committed heinous abuses, has in particular been used to control women, can be harmful (although the harm is rarely studied the way that medication side effects are studied), etc.

Even the basic set-up of paying a trained "professional" to listen to you and to pronounce his or her opinion from a one-up, expert position, can be disempowering for patients.

One only has to bring up the simple matter of a disagreement. What happens when you disagree with the therapist? By social convention, their word is right, since they are in the "healthy" one-up expert position. How could a sick, needy "patient" be the one in the right? Pretty much every disagreement will be handled this way - where it's your fault for being too sensitive, for having some sort of repressed issues, who knows - somehow the problem will be found in your own psychology, since that's what the whole point of turning yourself over to them is - for them to point out flaws in your psychology.

The therapist isn't there, or at least doesn't feel like he or she is there, to learn about ways that he or she is blind, discriminatory, racist, misinformed, prejudiced, flawed, etc. - yet if these two people were meeting without the pretense of one of them being an "expert," then these things could be pointed out.

The "expertise" that people are presumed to gain from even brief schooling in therapy then extends in a grandiose way to the point that they are thought to be able to help all kinds of people with problems they have not even heard of before meeting the people, simply from their expertise.

Anyhow - I have felt under the spell of this institution too, and reading Against Therapy is helping me to throw it off.

It's wonderful to have a very alive feeling, knowing that one's own desires, thoughts, dreams, feelings, knowledge, etc. matter, and that these old institutions, created from lots of pressures in time periods that have little in common with today, are not arbiters of what's right or of who I am or anything - they are just creaky old institutions with many inherent problems, made even worse by certain social forces.

They pretend to be the arbiters/bastions of goodness, learning, right living, health, and so on, but instead they are just ways that various people make a living, that money gets shuffled around, that some people profit wildly from the vulnerability of others.



Taking intuitive needs seriously

It's one of the main things I've learned from struggles in life - including being involved in therapy and such -

to trust myself and also to take what I feel seriously even if it doesn't appear to make rational sense at the time.

I've known some things were good for me and that some things were bad for me, and sometimes I figured out months or years later why that was.

It's an approach that has been rewarding for me - taking intuitive body needs 100% seriously. If I need a lot of hugs, or to sleep near someone, or to eat a certain kind of food, you can bet I'm going to do that.

I think we are in a situation where most people have a lot of unmet bodily needs, for a level of connection and meaning and just plain physical safety, from touch, perinatal nurturuing, and good nutrition, that's hard to achieve in this society. But those needs are still inbuilt. We don't get away from them by thinking that "no one could need that" - in the assumption that people are basically computers or machines.


Guide to getting what you want from this blog

If you are a healthy person, you might like posts on: meaning of life, spirituality, nonduality, how health affects personality, weird ideas, criticism of medicine, ideas for better healthcare, feminism, thought experiments, personal growth.

If you have Lyme or invisible illness, you might like: explaining Lyme, Lyme disease, Lyme and family, explaining Lyme, illness and esteem, Lyme rage, emotional fatigue, illness and identity, discrimination against sick people, illness and young people.

If you are going through recovery from illness, read recovery after illness.

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