If ever you get some time to listen to someone with a mental health diagnosis, particularly someone who is young, listen hard to what they have to say. Be aware that between you and them is a huge filter that their words have to pass through to reach your brain, a filter that distorts your perception and understanding of the world around you, so that you find yourself unable to comprehend or recognise very straightforward concepts.
Todays Observer draws attention to an important but overlooked change to the classification of delusion in the DSM. Now, “You needn't be wrong to be called delusional.”
Until now, a defining feature of delusion was that a fixed belief had to be incorrect. Recognising that a great many people who have been diagnosed as insane have actually been speaking the truth, to the point where political enemies have regularly been imprisoned in asylums, this is a subtle but vitally important change to our understanding of madness.
“History is littered with such examples but sadly there are enough contemporary cases to illustrate the point. In a controversy currently rocking Germany, evidence of money-laundering at a big bank has become a huge scandal, not least because it was dismissed as delusional seven years ago when the accuser was diagnosed with mental illness.
Closer to home, when the NHS whistleblower Kay Sheldon reported failings in the Care Quality Commission, the first response was to suggest she had a mental health problem and to commission a psychiatric assessment.”
My experience of a great majority of the many mentally ill people I’ve met is that they are a great deal more sensitive and empathic than the people around them. What often distinguishes them from others is that they have refused to or been unable to blunt their senses, to compromise their ethics or submit to the dominant discourse. Endlessly, in every region of unhappiness, it is easier to ignore or treat them with contempt than to engage with them. This phenomena is so well known that it has a name, Gaslighting.
Gaslighting drives people insane. We may not know we’re doing it but when we deny that a persons experience has actually happened we contribute massively to their distress.
"In the years after Martha Mitchell had been dismissed as delusional, it emerged, contrary to her claims, that she was under the care of her own psychiatrists, drinking heavily and, at times, suicidal."
Was Martha just born ‘weak-minded’ or might she have been driven to despair by the need to numb her feelings? She knew she’d have to deny her previous illnesses to be taken seriously. Interestingly, a good number of those people who are dangerously psychiatrically ill can do very well in the world: narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths are well represented in senior management.
The bedrock of psychotherapy, across models, is empathy. If a person tells you that they’ve lived on the moon it can an illustration of their feelings of isolation, or of how their truthful statements have been considered insane so why stick to the truth? There’s no point saying “But there’s no air on the moon,” you’ll often be dismissed as someone else who's not interested and they’ll know you can’t or won’t imagine their experience.
What separates some people whose sensitivity seems to be unmanageable from people who remain sensitive but functional is the ability to walk the thin line between swallowing our feelings and expressing them, between getting our own needs met and expending energy in helping others meet their needs – even if that need is just to be heard. This goes a long way towards explaining why the people most vitriolic about the State-supported poor seem to be the working poor. (Why someone who lives a life of privilege feels hatred for the poor is another matter.)
Delusions are often a matter of status and power. At last, the mental health industry seems to be cottoning on to what the abused have been saying for as long as abuse has occurred.
All Abandonment Abuse Ancestors Anger Anxiety Ash Wednesday Attitude Banking Bereavement Birthday Bravery Breivik Bystander Effect Camila Batmanghelidjh Carnival Cbt Challenger Charlotte Bevan Childbirth Childhood Children Christmas Coaching Compassion Contemplation Control Counselling Culture Dalai Lama Death Death Cafe Democracy Denial Depression Domestic Violence Dying Eap Earth Day Empathy Employment Eric Klinenberg Ethics Exams Existential Failure Family Annihilation Founders Syndrome Francis Report Gay Cure Genocide George Lyward Goldman Sachs Good Death Greg Smith Grief Grieving Grooming Groupthink Happiness Hate Hungary Illness Interconnectedness Jason Mihalko Jubilee Kids Company Kitty Genovese Life Light Living Loneliness Love Mandatory Reporting Meaning Men Mental Health Mid Staffs Mindfulness Money Mothers New Year Nigella Lawson Optimism Organisational Collapse Oxford Abuse Panama Papers Panic Panic Attacks Parenthood Petruska Clarkson Pleasure Politics Positivity Post Natal Depression Power Priorities Priority Productivity Psychotherapy Ptsd Red Tent Reflection Rena Resilience Riots Rites Of Passage Ritual Robin Williams Sad Sales Savile Scared Seasonal Affective Disorder Self Care Self Preservation Self-preservation Shock Sin Singletons Sport Spring Status St David St Georges Day Stress Suarez Suicide Support Talking Terry Pratchett Time Transition Trauma True Self Truth Understanding Unemployment Valentines Day Viktor Frankl Violence Whistleblowing Who Am I Winter Blues Women Work