Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Poetry, Musical Lyrics, and Hearing Voices

Whilst overall I experience positive voices, which are caring and compassionate, I still sometimes get negative and intrusive voices, if I am very stressed or tired. The negative and intrusive voices, constantly say things, and interrupt my train of thought, or peace of mind. They don't always say nasty things, but they impose and harass me with stupid questions, and they sometimes repeat what they say, over and over again. They also sometimes repeat what I am thinking, and which is most annoying.

For my birthday this year, my friend gave me an ipod (an mp3/computer music file player), with a nice set of headphones. I used to be able to meditate, but I can't meditate anymore due to the voices, and because I just experience boredom, when I chant or meditate on nothing, and so I use music to meditate upon, for relaxation, and for lifting my mood. Music is the main and best therapeutic tool for me, and I can store up to a thousand songs on my ipod. I listen to my ipod on quite a regular basis, as it blots the voices out, and gives me creative inspiration. Whilst the music blots out the voices, strangely enough, it doesn't blot out my own thoughts, and I can still think and write well, whilst listening to music. This proves in a way, that some aspects of the voices, are completely separate from my thinking.

Poetic, complex, and metaphorical language, also has some relevance to blotting out negative and intrusive voices for me. The negative and intrusive voices, are like very common people, who are slightly ignorant and prejudiced, and they in some ways represent a lower aspect or part of my personality. If I raise my consciousness to a higher level, with my thinking in a very poetic, complex, and metaphorical language, the voices are not able to follow and keep up with this, and remain silent.

This poetic, complex, and very metaphorical language, would itself be seen as mad, if it was spoken out loud (as I sometimes do when with friends), but it is in itself a cure to the negative and intrusive voices, and proves that artistic and creative thinking, is a higher form of consciousness. The positive voices, which are intelligent and caring, are also a higher form of personality and consciousness.

Another coping strategy I have for dealing with the negative and intrusive voices, is imagining hearing a song, and thinking of the tune and lyrics to the song. The voices sing along to the lyrics, but they do not disturb my train of thought, and I can still think OK.

All in all, the voices have both lower and higher levels of personality and consciousness to them, and they are both part of my thoughts, and also completely separate from my thinking, feeling, and being.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Label Busting

Some therapists focus on dispelling labelling, because they believe that self-identification is something which has been negatively socially conditioned or imposed upon individuals, through things like abuse, domestic violence, and psychiatric oppression, and that those things become internalised through negative self-identification. By labels, a therapist may mean diagnostic terms like "schizophrenia" and "psychotic", and not symptomatic terms such as "anxious" or "depressed", but which may still be negative labels about our perceptions and experiences, if the therapist is saying that we are misperceiving psychologically damaging treatment as simply poor judgment.

It's a good thing to dispel labelling, in order to regard people as changing and evolving individuals, but if label-busting doesn't make a discrepancy between negative and positive labelling, then it is just a negative enterprise, and which in itself may be negatively labelling the client in supposedly neutral terms. One reason for some therapists opposing all labelling, including positive labelling, is that the therapist wants territorial control over the whole labelling processes, and in terms of the client's intellectual and emotional responses.

If people have had very bad experiences of things like abuse, domestic violence, and psychiatric oppression, then obviously the experiences of those things are not positive, but are very negative experiences, whilst the therapy may be positive in its treatment of the person. If a person is suffering or injured, then we have to in some ways label the person's state of mind or well-being, in order to treat or care for the person, or else we wouldn't be concerned with them at all. This is about care or treatment, and not necessarily about coercion. Labelling therefore has an emotional dimension, and enables us to gauge human suffering, in order to care for or treat a person or group within society. This is a human area, and which is not necessarily confined to psychotherapy or mental health.

For example, if a person were to fall off her or his bicycle, and graze their elbow, we would be labelling them by saying that the person is hurt and in need of a plaster, but this would be a positive use of labelling, because it would be a positive response to a physical problem, in much the same way that a positive emotional response may be applied to mental health.

Any term might be considered as a label, and we might need a basic understanding of linguistics to know about the different types of labelling that exist, because on a much wider scale, all words and terms are labels, including descriptions of human beings. I'm not attempting to go into this now, but a basic understanding of linguistics is important, as language or the use of language, often underlies or interrelates with labelling processes, behaviours, and responses.

Opposing all labelling, may not distinguish between positive self-labelling which opposes negative social conditioning, and positive labelling, which is about individuals asserting themselves against the negative labelling which has been misappropriated onto individuals through things like abuse and domestic violence. Too much individualising of negative and positive labelling, might also omit the social dimension of labelling, and how this operates within society at large, and within psychotherapy and mental health.

Some therapists attempts at label-busting, might label a person with even bigger labels, or with much more subtler and insidious ones, and we can't always believe a therapist when they say that they are just going for busting the bigger or huge labels, because there's a distinction between diagnosis and symptoms in terms of labelling. For example, a label like "schizophrenia" is a diagnosis, and would constitute a big label, whereas a symptom like "anxious" or "depressed", would amount to a symptom, but both may be a form of labelling, if it is only focusing on negative terms within actual therapeutic treatment.

There's also a distinction between a label which denominates a person from a group, and a stereotype which demonstrates a person with a derogatory group characteristic. In this way, what may appear to be an individual label or labelling process, may actually be a denomination of a negative or positive group characteristic, and what may appear to be social labelling, via social conditioning, may just be a case of individual labelling, perhaps operating at a more interpersonal level. It is this area which is most beneficial to any counselling or psychotherapy, which seeks to focus on label-busting in terms of a refined but non-stereotypical enterprise and therapeutic practice, and to create a positive social and self-image of the client.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Michael Radford's Film version of George Orwell's Novel Nineteen Eighty Four

I just watched the film Nineteen Eighty Four, and whilst it is about totalitarianism, I thought the film also had some potential criticisms of psychiatry, and non-participatory democracy, because the way the totalitarian state - or Big Brother - thinks, is in some ways very similar to medical psychiatry, and Orwell makes some references to state-labelled delusions, madness, and sanity, as the torture and abuse that the state imposes and then denies, creates a psychosis of mental and social utopianism, within a dystopian society.

Liberals have tended to mock George Orwell - the author of the novel Nineteen Eight Four - as irrelevant to modern times, in order to justify the spectator society and objectification, but I think his criticism of totalitarianism and bad democratic governments, is very relavant to modern times, and still has a lot of validity, as we are moving closer to more of a surveillance and controlling society and world, along with an area of national and world society, which dialectically at the same time creates more freedom. Until we understand the dialectic of this, and the underlying psychological, political, and social factors influencing it, we will not be able to move towards a more equal and freer society and world.

Our present society, may not be a totalitarian one, and with some aspects of surveillance properly used, may have helped reduce theft and violent crime, but all it takes, is for some extremist dictatorship or group to take over, and they would have complete control. There is also a similarity, in 1984, with the way that the state and media, always have to create some enemy for us to go to war with, as the governments of the world have created terrorism. Terrorism, is not human nature, and it does not grow on trees. It is socially, politically, psychologically, and historically created.

The kind of society in Nineteen Eight Four, that Orwell envisaged, is for some poor and powerless people, already here now. What we need, is less poverty and inequality of power, more genuine and participatory democracy, and more civil and human rights in society, without the hypocrisy and hate-week of criticising other countries for this. Until we have full civil and human rights, we are in no position to criticise other cultures and societies. Having full civil and human rights, is now problematic, because of the rise in terrorism, but that does not excuse society to mistreat poor and powerless people, who rebel against abuse, oppression, and injustice, and who are just as much victims of social and political torture, as that which we criticise in other countries, cultures, and societies.

In the book and film, "hate week", is where the pent-up repressions and frustrations of society, are released, as a kind of therapy, to cathart the emotions, through hating a fabricated subversive called O'Brian, who's drowned out image and spoken words, are played on a large screen. O'Brian had supposedly written a book, of rebellion against the totalitarian state, or Big Brother, but it is later revealed, that the state itself created that book and the rebellion.

Rebellion can take many forms, including authoritarian, and libertarian - and like psychotic utopianism and dystopianism - and a more enslaved and freer society - all this operates and atomises within a dialectic. The synthesis of that dialectic, is an unfolding social, psychological, and political process and outcome, that we must understand, before it leads to a less freer and equal society and world, and to an end of the modern world.

As George Orwell's main character, Winston, says in 1984: "If there is hope, it is in the proles" (the proletarians/working classes), who whilst being the collective willing instruments of the state, are not collectively or individually polluted or corrupted, by the state's political, moral, and intellectual reductionism and elitism.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper

I was recently conversing in an Internet chat room, and another chatter mentioned that they had seen a very good film at the cinema in America, called My Sister's Keeper. I did an Amazon UK Internet search on the film title, but the film that was available for sale on the Amazon web site, with the same title, was not the same film as the other chatter mentioned. Anyway, I checked out the film available on the Amazon UK web site, read the review, and it looked very interesting, and so I bought it. For anyone wanting to buy the film, it might be useful to know, that it stars Kathy Bates, and Lynn Redgrave, and again, is called My Sister's Keeper.

The film is about a psychiatric diagnosed, schizo-affective child, called Christine, who's father dies when she was a child, and who grows up in and out of psychiatric hospitals, due to negative hearing voices, noisy hallucinations, and non-communicative social withdrawal, but who otherwise lived with, and was looked after, by her single mother. Christine was also shown to suffer from some visual hallucinations.

The noisy hallucinations Christine experienced, triggered by environmental noise and stress, were depicted as meaningless and incoherent, when they are usually not experienced primarily over actual hearing voices - which are also caused or triggered by environmental noise and stress - and it is not the case that noisy hallucinations are completely meaningless and incoherent either. Usually, hearing negative voices, are experienced first, then the chaotic noises and/or visual hallucinations follow, but in relation or context to the negative voices, the incoherent noises and images can have some meanings to them as well, related to the persons life-experiences.

As a teenager, Christine's anger at the futility and injustice of war and fanatical militarism, under the Nixon regime, was seen as inappropriate anger, and not being able to relate to the real world, by her mother. When her mother dies, when Christine is an adult, this brings her closer to her successful younger sister, who she begins to form a friendship relationship with.

Whilst the negative hearing voices and hallucinations, Christine suffered from, were otherwise depicted quite well, and the film showed that she had a vulnerability to environmental stress, I felt that she was somewhat of a stereotype of a psychiatric diagnosed person, with the usual prejudices that we are very bad communicators, and have problems forming human relationships because of this.

Christine made her own statements, and a lot of the time, her statements seemed disconnected, and she did not connect, respond, or reciprocate to anything, in a flow or stream of conversation, that was said to her. When she did connect and respond to another person's statement, she then went off on a tangent, mentioning something completely different or "out of context". I commented on this, and my dad's partner, accurately pointed out, that it seemed that nobody actually connected, responded, or reciprocated to her statements, however seemingly disconnected or unconnected.

At one point in the film, Christine expresses herself playfully, towards a young black child, and was able to reciprocate and connect, because he did not respond silently, or judge her seemingly fragmented and disconnected behaviours and statements, as her mother did. Christine's expressiveness and elation, was merely seen as outgoing friendliness and playfulness by the child, of whom she was kind towards and befriended.

It was a good film, but it didn't really seem to have much of an ending, and like most of these films about diagnosed madness, it purported the view that all diagnosed madness is mostly due to a chemical imbalance. The view that diagnosed madness, is caused by childhood abuse, loss, and trauma, was mostly mocked and discredited in the film, and the view that it is caused by oppression from others, and falsity of self, was also satirised and rejected, and interpreted in a way, that others are expected to tolerate unreasonable, or irrational, expression and communication.