Monday, 31 August 2009

Talking Therapies in Mental Health

Nine years ago, and some years before that, I received counselling, from professional counsellors and psychotherapists. Before all that, I received counselling from a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse), who was not professionally trained to be a counsellor or psychotherapist, but who had a humanistic approach, based upon occasionally summarising, and offering suggestions, but mostly listening, and drawing out the clients happiness and positivity.

The counsellors I received counselling from, and who claimed they had a cognitive-behavioural, and Rogerian theory and training, just wanted to impose their own ideas of me and my mental health problems, onto me, but the psychotherapists were much interested in my own ideas and findings. I feel in hindsight though, that whilst the psychotherapists learnt from my some of my ideas, they kept this knowledge to further their social roles and status, in their case-studies and careers, and did not share the knowledge with politicians or the public.

This is why I decided to give up counselling and psychotherapy, because I felt that I received better empathetic communication from friends, and from the mental health chat room on the Internet that I frequent. I created my web log, to share my own ideas and findings with the public, and with those in power, so they can create policies, for things like preventing child abuse and school bullying, and create health and safety work rights in law and legislation. It remains to be seen, whether these policies will be created and implemented.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Freedom of Thought, Emotion, and Communication

There’s a fear amongst some people, that if we expressed our true thoughts and feelings, then it would lead to some violence or chaos. The repression of freedom of thought and communication, can itself lead to a violence, chaos, or a deliberate attempt to confuse and mislead people, as to our true thoughts and feelings, but real freedom of expression is important, and can be achieved within some reason.

Freedom of expression, becomes problematic, when there is some kind of rigid hierarchy, or power imbalance between two people or more, and usually this involves the most extrovert or charismatic person, taking over, or dominating the group. This is why it’s also so important to protect and promote, the freedom of expression, of those who are less intelligent or charismatic in society, as they usually get treated as not worthy of democratic and equal free expression, and human rights.

A typical example of this, is in William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies, where the child survivors of a plane crash, stranded on a desert island, become like savages, when civilised law and order breaks down, and is replaced by dictatorship and mob rule. The most charismatic and extroverted boy becomes the leader, whilst the boy named Piggy, who is physically disabled, but an intellectual, has the best ideas for the groups social stability and survival, but who is bullied, physically attacked, and eventually killed by some of the other children.

I agree, that there has to be some kind of order and/or reciprocity in communication, but I also believe in some natural expressions of our thoughts and feelings, whilst I realise that some of our thoughts and feelings need to remain private, because that is how we develop our thoughts and feelings, more progressively and humanely in our minds, as well as outwardly and socially with others. Without this element of privacy, freedom of expression, socially, could just lead to another kind of mind control. Still, to be open socially in our communication, and to be both constructive and creative, is very important.

When I am with a close friend of mine, a lot of the time, I can freely express myself, but if a certain friend of his is present, who is very extrovert and charismatic, I feel very controlled and inhibited, because I feel that he dictates his views, and that I am in some ways, at the bottom of the hierarchy between him and my friend. In that situation, I can feel emotions or tensions, blocking the free flow, and constructive and associative expression of my thoughts and communication.

Because of this negative social control, when I am in that situation, it makes me want to express myself more creatively, and speak in associative thoughts and lateral metaphors, which seem to be more spontaneous. I do wonder though, if creative (associative and metaphorical thinking) is more spontaneous and authentic than more constructed social communication, and I think there’s a dividing line there, between the views of the artistic or creative, and the views of the rational or scientific. Some sociologists, may say that creative communication is just a deviation from shared meanings, whilst creative people might say that purely logical communication was emotionally repressive.

In this situation, with my friend and his friend, I have also tried to think and speak, in stream-of-consciousness, and which sometimes leads to more connectedness between my thoughts, and more constructive and shared communication, and it sometimes leads to fragmentation from logic and shared meanings. I think that creative communication, has to be combined with constructive social communication and shared meanings, and that there is an art and science to achieving this with others.

I now want to talk about the matter of appropriate speech, and individual and social communication inhibition. It's sometimes hard, for some people at least, to know what is appropriate speech, as this can change to quite some drastic degree, according to what company you are in.

With very dysfunctional, and usually very unintelligent or uneducated people in a group, there is a strong pressure to conform to very dysfunctional communication, such as wild digression, macho boasting about sex and/or violence, and talking at the same time as others, with cross-communication. If a person doesn’t conform to this, they tend to get left out of the social communication, and in that way, are in those situations, at the bottom of the power and communication relation hierarchy. With authoritarian people, any free and equal expression or communication, can be seen as inappropriate, if it doesn’t conform to violent or unreasonable, dictatorial demands, and in that way, the authoritarians, such as some social workers, are on the same mental level as very unintelligent and/or dysfunctional people.

It seems to me, that most people don't say much, about what is on their mind, but they just interact with reciprocal external or social communication, as in what is termed conformism, but to me, this seems worrying or problematic, because they may not be in touch, or connected to others, with their true thoughts and feelings, unless they are just in touch and connected internally, or in a private way. It therefore depends, on what ideological position a person takes, on connectivity and authenticity of thought and emotions, whether external social communication is how people connect to their true thoughts and feelings, or whether that is purely internal and private, but to me both things can be valid and important.

What I don't agree with, is being pressurised or coerced, to say what is on your mind, or what you are feeling, as these things must be freely chosen, unlike the group therapy, in the novel and film One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, and which was the kind of therapy originally used in the old psychiatric asylums. In One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, people are pressurised to express all their private thoughts, interrogated with questions pertaining to this, and their private situations in their social lives, or made to sit in silence, until one of them says something to this effect.

People should be compassionate towards other people, who are in distress and suffering, and help them. However, it is very wrong, unethical, and immoral, for so-called advocates of the distressed and suffering, such as some social workers - who are not oppressed, distressed, and suffering themselves - to assume that others don’t have compassion or care, and it is very contradictory, selfish, and hypocritical to use punishment, oppression, violence, threats, terrorism, incarceration, or coercion, to force people to be altruistic, especially if that altruism doesn’t involve any compassion, healing, appropriate and humane treatment, or love. It is however, understandable that people who are in distress and suffering themselves, demand love and/or help from others, including their advocates, in ways that are non-violent, and we should all respond to their pleas, expression, actions, and attempts at human interaction, and for support, help, love, and communicative inter connectivity.