Friday, 30 May 2008

Personality Disorders and Ordinary People

In simple terms, a personality disorder, is characterised by communication problems (usually an unwillingness to share or engage in free and equal or mutual communication), and a tendency to express thoughts and emotions irrationally, erratically, or compulsively. It is also characterised by emotions such as extreme anger and irritability, and an inability to sustain long-term friendships or relationships.

Whilst these characteristics describe a disorder, or a so-called mental illness, there is also a general, so-called normal version of personality disorders, and which keeps everyone in their place, in terms of expected and demanded mediocrity, very base or basic humour, and human and personal imperfections. An ordinary personality disorder, is also characterised by a certain immaturity of behaviour and expression, and by a degree of silliness and flippancy. I also sometimes like to act silly and be flippant, but I also like to take myself and others seriously, and which the ordinary personality disorder often militates against.

There is therefore a tendency, for ordinary people, to attack or criticise those who try to break out of this pathological conformity, and label them as pathologically insane, paranoid, psychotic, or deluded, particularly if the person, does not want to be a part of the crassness, stupidity, mediocrity, and ignorance of the ordinary personality disorder. If a person tries to break out from this conditioning, then ordinary people say that they are mad, take themselves too seriously, or that they have no sense of humour.

The mental health professionals, and social workers, also absorb and embrace the pathological conformity, and social control, of the ordinary personality disorder, because they think that this helps them relate to other so-called normal people, such as people diagnosed with mental health problems, and because the professionals see themselves as ordinary people, although they can't see in fact that they are acting and behaving like arseholes.

Whilst I agree that humour is very important, and that we should all be able to laugh at ourselves, the British have a very sadistic sense of humour (and which is sometimes pointed out by other cultures and races), and are often only happy when laughing at someone else's expensive, and when those laughing can't take it back, or laugh at themselves in turn. If everyone could laugh at themselves, this would be a good thing, but often laughing at yourself, is something that others expect or demand, who can't do this themselves, and so it is a matter of double-standards, and very one-sided.

People on the right-wing of politics, sometimes complain about political correctness, that it censors language and free speech. Political correctness is up to a point a good thing, because it is about expanding language and terminology, instead of just using the same old derogatory and abusive language and terms.

Political correctness in humour, started off in the sixties with the anti-establishment humour, and then in the eighties with alternative humour, and which was all about poking fun at powerful, and rich people, in authority, instead of making fun of minorities, poor people, and people with diagnosed disabilities.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Hearing Voices and Social Isolation

We need a new model of treatment, and a new way of thinking, with regard to social isolation and hearing voices and/or so-called schizophrenia. There's a tendency for social workers, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals, to bully people who hear voices and/or who are diagnosed with schizophrenia, into socially interacting more with others. This stems from two major misconceptions.

Firstly, whilst it's true that voices can be in part caused by social isolation, to simply say that voices are caused completely or mostly by social isolation, is false, ignorant, and misleading, and it leads to a lot of harm, neglect, and abuse. Voice hearers and people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia have a different way of socially interacting, and which reciprocates much more the inner and outer experiences. Non voice hearers and the non-diagnosed keep their inner and outer experiences more intact, except perhaps when they are asleep and dreaming.

Having more reciprocity between inner and outer experiences, may in fact be a much more healthier way to think, feel, and socially interact. So it is simply not true to say that people who hear voices don't socially interact, aren't socially interacting enough, or are disabled in this way. It may just be that voice hearers and diagnosed people need a certain amount of solitude to filter and transform their experiences of social interaction, and that the social interaction that voice hearers do have is experienced differently. This is the new model of treatment and way of thinking which is required towards hearing voices and diagnosed schizophrenia.

Secondly, it is the case that for many people, hearing voices actually counteract social isolation. Our voices befriend us and are like imaginary friends. This does not mean that we need to be bullied into socially interacting more, nor that we have a disability to socially interact, it just means that we have a different way of counteracting social isolation, but which is just as effective for us.

A friend of mine says that when he gets depression, the voices can lessen the impact of the depression because they reframe the experience into something more open ended. This opens up the possibility for new social interactions as I see it, but does not necessarily close the possibilities. The view that hearing voices can help prevent social isolation is quite a radical one, but a very valid one nonetheless. Voice hearers have a more complex model of social interaction.

My friend Luke mentioned that this also has a strong link to theater, and the voices are like a "dialogue sense" - an extra module in the mind. In the book The Master Game, the author Robert de Ropp explains a concept called "Inner Theater", and which is like a dialogue sense that enables spiritual growth by modeling others and mapping the highly complex structures of interaction. This may also have some similarities to what voice hearers are experiencing.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Paranoia-Inducing, Projection, and Internalisation

To begin this article on paranoia, I first want to say something about paranoia-inducing, paranoia projection, and the internalisation or introjection of this. Some people in power and society, will try to induce paranoia in people diagnosed with mental health problems, because they get a kick out of it, it makes them feel superior in terms of power and awareness, and it makes them feel and think that they have a better grasp and understanding of reality.
For example, whilst it may be argued that the drug cannabis induces paranoia, there is also the reality of the discrimination against the drug and its use, because it is illegal, and which can also induce paranoia.
By persecuting, terrorising, and hounding individuals, this can be a way of making the victimised person feel frightened, angry, paranoid or upset, and which are all ways to control and label the person, as having symptoms of so-called mental illness. This may also be a projection of paranoia - perhaps a mass paranoia - upon individuals or small groups. This projection of paranoia, can then become internalised by the person, but could also be an awareness of what could happen, if this discrimination and abuse to induce paranoia, became extended to actual or more violence, became more extreme, and got out totally of hand.
There is also the matter of sensitivity with paranoia. Some people who are labelled as paranoid may have a sensitivity to their local surroundings, and be sensitive to some aspects of social and cultural animosity, that others cannot see or admit to about themselves, or are not as aware of. Paranoia can be a more social way of thinking, because it is connecting to others, albeit in a negative way.
One opposite of paranoia, is the denial of power abuse, repression, and oppression in society and reality. A normal person may be tolerant towards some abuse and oppression, whilst the so-called paranoid person is aware of it and protests against it.
Paranoia can also be part of a creative process, where a detail or details get enlarged or exaggerated for atmosphere and effect, whilst there is some corresponding so-called delusion thinking, although once the blocks or delusions have passed, and the person can see the whole picture, this can then be part of a personal, cultural, social, or political critique.
Paranoia labelling can simply be a denial of rights to protect persons and people from persecution, discrimination, abuse, and oppression. On the BBC TV programme The Doctor Who Hears Voices, a female member of the Manchester Hearing Voices group, said that she was frightened that aliens were going to take her away, remove her eyes, and blind her. This might mean, that she is frightened that she could be sectioned, or incarcerated, in psychiatric hospital, if she told others about the voices, and that she could become alienated, and have her perceptions and thoughts about the experiences of the voices, taken away from her by psychiatric incarceration and drugs.
What is curious and interesting, is that in my experience, paranoia can be taken as a general personal criticism by another person - particularly a parent or other family member - even though the critical aspect of the paranoia is not directly about that person. Again, this might be because the paranoia is warning people of what could happen, if things became extreme or out of control, because it highlights the so called sane person's denial or tolerance of abusive power and repression, and because it is in a way seen as mad, irrational, and delusional. It is at the least, an extension of the so-called sane person's intolerance against another person having a different opinion or experience.
Paranoia that exists alongside or are also delusions, can stem from the fact that harm, abuse, and bullying has been done to the person in the past, and that events are somewhat overlapping in the mind. What the person needs is to understand are that the events are separate, but that they are also somewhat interconnected and interrelated.
Paranoia can also be about the person needing love, reassurance, and protection, and about his or her way of expressing that need. Paranoia can also stem, from the way that children or young people can be threatened or told that bad things will happen to them if they misbehave. This can induce paranoia in the child or in later life.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Hallucinating Music and my Appreciation of the Composer Wagner

I woke up at 8.30 this morning, after only having four hours sleep. I then went back to bed at 10.30 a.m. and slept until 2 p.m. I had the most amazing experience when I woke.
When I woke, I could hear some great and unique classical music that I've never heard before coming from my radio. I remembered turning my radio off though and thought "That's weird!". Then I turned the volume up, and it got louder although it didn't go up to full volume. I thought it was strange because I usually leave my radio tuned to Radio Kent who don't play classical music. Then I checked the switch to see if my radio was on, and it wasn't switched on. I then heard some seagulls outside my window, and this created and blended in with more amazing and unique classical music. After about twenty seconds the music faded.
I've hallucinated music before, usually jazz, but not quite as loud and vivid as this. I then played the parts of what I could remember from hearing the classical music on my guitar, and will remember how to play it now. This makes me wonder, if I could have been a great composer, and if this is how a lot of classical composers create music, is that they hear the music from the outside or the inside of their heads first. Maybe some of them hallucinate it.
I'm a great fan of the composer Wagner, and I gain a lot of psychological insight about human beings from listening to and experiencing his music. I said this in a mental health chat room, and one user in the room said that Wagner was a Nazi sympathizer and a racist, and that his beliefs went hand-in-hand with his music. I explained to her that the Nazis weren't around during Wagner's lifetime, and in any case the Nazis just used what part of Wagner they wanted to for their own propaganda and ideology, and then they dismissed the rest. Wagner did have some anti-Semitic views, but he also had Jewish friends and colleagues throughout his lifetime.
Wagner was not simply a nationalist and a racist. He started off as a socialist and an anarchist, but then got into nationalist politics. He then returned to his socialist and anarchist views towards the end of his life.
Wagner was interested and influenced by the philosopher Schopenhauer. Shopenhauer was a pessimist who believed that the human will was the source of all evil (unlike the philosopher Nietzsche who believed that it was the source of all good). In light of the strength of will of the Nazi's, Schopenhauer would have been right that it leads to evil and destruction. Instead of will power, Schopenhauer believed in transcendence and was influenced by things like Hinduism and Buddhism, and he saw salvation, deliverance and escape from suffering in aesthetic contemplation, sympathy for others, and ascetic living, and he thought that music was a very important part of that transcendence.
When I listen to Wagner's music, I do not hear conflict or racial hatred, but I hear both subtle and immense human emotions and love, tragedy, humanism, and ordinary people's struggles against poverty and oppression. I can hear Wagner's socialism and anarchism in his music, and when listening to his music on the bus on my Walkman, I realized the immense hidden love within ordinary people walking along in the streets, and their struggles against war, violence, and oppression. This is what I hear in Wagner's music, and which is why for me he will always be one of the greatest modern classical composers

Art, Transcendence, Rationality, and Consciousness

A while ago I had a brief conversation with an artist. He said that modern day teaching methods for art are useless and don't encourage people to think for themselves, but just focus on correct materials, still life, and copying from photographs. He also said that music is less aesthetic and less directly perceived by the senses than art, because art is visual and in direct contact with a person's consciousness, whilst music can be experienced with the eyes shut and is transcendent (beyond the ordinary range of perception), and so therefore less conscious and aesthetic.
The fact that modern day teaching methods for art are useless and don't encourage people to think for themselves, but just focus on correct materials, still life, and copying from photographs, implies that there is a lack of imagination and perception that only applies to form and not to emotions and finer or subtler perceptions which could go along with some transcendence.
As a musician, I disagree with the artist that music is experienced or played as less conscious as visual art, as a lot of great music requires a lot of consciousness to fully appreciate, play, or understand it, and I don't think that hearing is less of a direct or valued perceptual sense than seeing. I also don't think that transcendence is equal to a reduction of consciousness, as I partly feel that this is a very Western way of thinking, and which is culturally determined by different ideas on consciousness itself (with the East equating transcendence as higher and not lower levels of consciousness).
For example, in Kant's theory of knowledge, transcendence means being beyond the limits of experience and hence unknowable. This also means being above and independent of the material universe, and so the Western model may be a more materialistic view of consciousness than say a spiritual one, or it may be assuming that transcendence is beyond material reality, when it may just be beyond ordinary, formal, or mundane perceptual experience.
The Western model on consciousness also seems to me to include certain ideas on madness, that if madness is regarded as transcendent, then it is therefore according to that model something less conscious and less aesthetic, when again transcendence might mean a higher consciousness on some level.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Why I am Opposed to the 11-Plus

I recently had a brief conversation, with someone about grammar schools and the 11-plus. She said that it was wrong of the Labour government to close some grammar schools, whilst I said that I disagreed with the 11-plus, because it brands children as unintelligent from an early age. She replied, that without the 11-plus we would have mediocrity, as if mediocrity doesn't already exist in society, with things like the vast majority of parenting and the media.
The main reason why the 11-plus is wrong and highly damaging, is because it doesn't take into account the influence of the home-life on the child's learning, mental, and emotional development. I was abused at home, and which prevented me from concentrating on school work, as so much of my time was spent on dissociating from the abuse, and suppressing very painful thoughts and emotions. We need women into work, college, or university, so they are not housebound, and basic child development and parenting skills taught in schools, but what we have now in terms of parenting, is a state of ignorance and the worst kind of anarchy.
The other main reason I am opposed to the 11-plus, is because children develop intellectually and academically at different ages and stages in their lives. Only in my late teens, did I become very interested in reading and learning, when I was free from the school bullying and domestic abuse, and then I wanted to learn about politics, psychology, and sociology, because these things were not taught in schools. I later stopped reading, because I mostly read to improve my vocabulary, and because I then wanted to focus on my own experiences, observations, findings, and ideas.
In some ways, I believe in more freedom in society, but I can also see a case for more rules or order in certain areas of society, especially in the area of educating young people, and foster parents, in basic child development and parenting skills. We are having a society of children brought up by amateurs, who have no basic learning or training, and it is a diabolical situation, and state of affairs. People on the right-wing always talk about children needing more discipline, but the adults or parents are allowed to get away with blue murder, and do exactly as they like, without any basic training, and understanding of basic children's rights. We live in a society that elevates amateurism, and which most children are nurtured and brought up by uneducated morons and imbeciles. That is mediocrity of the worst degree.

Delusions and Reality

There's a widespread belief, amongst some Marxist and communist people - even those on the center of Marxist or communist politics - that religious people believe in things that don't exist, such as God, and that the psychiatric hospitals, are full of people, who presumably don't believe in things that exist - therefore, all religious people are mad and irrational - and all diagnosed mad people are irrational and deluded.

This reductionist view, pertains to be a view about objective reality, but is in fact an opinion or value-judgement about sanity and madness. It also doesn't take into account, that a person can be both deluded and aware at the same time, and that so-called delusions can have a real basis to a person's life experiences, and in a wider personal, social, or a more cultural aspect of reality.

I have had so-called delusions in the past, when I have been very mentally unwell, where I absolutely believed in things that were not real, and yet I have also got to the stage where I knew I was deluded, but still wanted to have some aspect of the delusions up to a point, because I could learn from the experiences.

I find that Marxist or communist people are prejudiced, mentalist, and not very nice towards psychiatric diagnosed people, and treat us as socially and mentally inferior, when they are supposed to believe in equality. Obviously, their equality means, as George Orwell put it in his book Animal Farm that: 'some animals are more equal than others'. Not to say the least, about the way that diagnosed psychiatric people, and political and religious dissidents, were treated in the old Soviet Union, and locked up for life, simply for having different opinions and experiences.

Am I Normal?: Spirituality

In this TV programme, shown on the 28th of April, 2008, on BBC 2 at 9 p.m., as part of the documentary series Am I Normal?, Dr Tanya Byron explored what some consider the fine-line, between religious devotion and so-called psychiatric disorder. She began the programme, by asking what place does religious belief - which depends not on rational thinking and scientific proof, but simple faith - have in the modern world? She asked, are people who devote their lives to something that can never be proved, wasting their time?, and is the very idea of religious belief, evidence of flawed, or even demented, thinking?

Tanya Byron spoke to a street preaching born-again Christian, who when asked if he ever wondered that people might think he’s crazy, said that people who say this are crazy themselves, and trying to push their craziness and negativity onto others. She then spoke to a nun, who said that monastic isolation helped her to face her inner demons. The nun said that she knew her beliefs in God were true, but it was not something she knew with her head, but more similar to something a person knows with their heart.

Tanya Byron then said, that a lot of mental health professionals, say that a high percentage of people with diagnosed schizophrenia have religious beliefs, but that this helps them with their problems and life in general. A psychiatrist said that religion has had a bad press in psychiatry. Because of religious delusion, the psychiatrists tend to see spirituality as something that needs treating. The shrink continued by saying, that this prejudice about the religious beliefs, of people with mental health problems, stems from the fact that religion and science have been separated, in the history of psychiatry, and that we need to bring science and religion back together.

Former MP, and newspaper columnist, Matthew Paris said that he had no problem with many Christians, but that he got irritated with laziness of mind, using bad arguments, and finding comfort in something, that they know in some part of their brain just isn’t true.

Tanya Byron then mentioned that it has been said, that if you talk to God, then you are religious, but if God talks back to you, then you are a schizophrenic. Richard Benthal, the author of Madness Explained, said that we all have an inner voice, and that it’s well known in child development, that at age 2 we all start talking to ourselves. He said that diagnosed mad people are treated as another species, and considered that they are deluded, out-of-touch with reality, and that others have a privileged access to reality, and diagnosed mad people are seen as not responsible for their actions and need controlling.

Tanya Byron then said that, what if people who hear voices are not mad, but are just unhappy people who have had bad experiences in their lives, and that they need to be listened to, and not labelled as mad and feared. She attended the Manchester Hearing Voices group, who are working with the University of Manchester’s new research, to look at hearing voices in a new way.

Peter, from the Manchester Hearing Voices Group, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and been in a out of psychiatric hospitals, said that his negative voices, were taken over by more positive voices, of his mother and grandmother. He said that psychiatrists trying to suppress the experience of hearing voices, were not helpful, because we need to not fragment the voices, but integrate them - have a relationship with them - get to know the voices and understand them. Tanya Byron concluded the programme, by saying that we need to accept the spirituality of diagnosed mad people, and not label this as part of their diagnosed mental illness.

I thought it was a good programme, but I have one major criticism of it. It’s not a simple matter of religious belief on the one hand, and rational thinking on the other, or religion and science, and simply bringing the two together. It’s a slightly more complex matter, of the dialectical relationship between the two, and that they can be connected or related, and yet still remain very separate. As a writer, and experienced person on mental health matters and creativity, I am basically a rationalist and a scientist, but I also believe in creativity, and realise the importance of things like spirituality too, in order to further the rationalist and scientific quest.

As a voice hearer, I hear positive, educative, friendly, caring, and supportive voices, which are female. I need to have these hearing voices experiences for my own well-being, and to create and think fully and effectively, and I would be depressed and devastated without them. I often initially have to create the voices with my mind, by setting up a basic dialogue with another in my thoughts, and then the voices have some autonomy from my conscious thoughts, and engage in discussion and debate with me.

When I am not hearing the voices, I know that they are not real, and are just an extra function of my mind or brain, but whilst experiencing them as autonomous, and relating and engaging with them, I have to suspend rational thinking and belief, and believe that they are real people, otherwise I would not hear or experience them, and otherwise I would not be able to come up with new knowledge and findings, and write about them.

This means, that the rational belief aspect of the mind has to be suspended, for a different modality of thinking and feeling to take place, and in order for new rational and scientific thinking to occur. Even though this involves temporarily believing in things which do not exist, it is not laziness of mind, or bad argument, as Matthew Paris simply put it. It is often a much more complex, and more deeper way of thinking, which is a more dialectical thinking, and a different mode of consciousness.