When I think back to my twenty-two-year career working with other providers, my mid-career first-break, and the things that helped me recover, like my dog, I know for sure that the standard of care needs is a disservice to those who experience madness.
Many people who have breaks from reality get that permanent housing trajectory in their heads and rant and rail against it. They may still believe that there is such a thing as schizophrenia and be disinterested in the lives of their peers who are clearly schizophrenics. Those who have breaks, like me, are extremely diverse with distinctive cultural backgrounds, different access to resources and differing levels of buy into to the concept that they are permanently ill with something that will never go away. Those without a history of privilege become very susceptible for decline into permanent warehousing conditions that make healing very challenging.
Clearly, dismantling industry constructs for things like schizophrenia and poor prognosis is an important component of recovery. I have a hunch that to plan for generativity, schizophrenic constructs, other disorder constructs that block the formation of counterculture, and constructs from developmental psychology need to be challenged.
As I mentioned in part one of this essay, to deconstruct the notion of schizophrenia, nine years ago, I coined the term, special messages. Special messages are a broad set of experiences that lead people into schizophrenia. Special messages can range from intuitions, to dreams, to memories, to interpersonal interaction, to voices or other hallucinations, to coded/traumatic observations of media, words, numbers, or serendipitous reality. During a first break these experiences come together to offer powerful glimpses of reality that is real but overwhelming or confusing. In the least it leads to thoughts that tend to differ from mainstream thought.
Running survivor-led group therapy over the past nine years, I have identified at least seven other jargonized concepts other than special messages that significantly help define what is going on during a break. This involves looking at message receivers without seeing them as behavioral objects with brain disorders. Looking at the process of what is going on internally and externally in addition to the way individuals behave is necessary. And during this process of deconstructing schizophrenia, there are a host of potential solutions that arise. Along with eight components of “psychosis” I have developed eight solution strategies over time.
I believe it helps to share diverse ideas, coping strategies and learn more about the culture of peoples who experience a break. Although we come from diverse backgrounds, we become brothers and sisters when we become oppressed during treatment. I believe group therapy that focuses on the experience of “psychosis” can help restore that much needed human need for generativity. The hearing voices movement is currently starting to make this resource available to people. I believe that people who get special messages and have first breaks have skills that could become gifts if they learn how to manage them. Instead they end up separated into isolated disorders and alone. I tend to think of them as being neurologically different not psychologically and developmentally impaired.
Perhaps as a people, we message receivers are mistrustful for a good reason. Who wants to go in and out of the hospital until they are forced into permanent warehousing conditions?
As a paid professional, I was careful to hide my history and prove that I could function just like a normal clinician. It wasn’t until I had worked six years and received my psychotherapy license that I decided to overcome my own fear of being fired for surviving schizophrenia. I started to run groups in which I shared and depicted my own experience and used that platform to foster mutual exploration. I have learned how to work with many in the program, telling stories and defining universal qualities of “psychosis.”
Another industry construct that needs to be dismantled are the presumptions that get made with the developmental psychological paradigm of Eric Erickson. The belief that someone with paranoid “psychosis” is stuck in the first developmental stage of trust verses mistrust and therefore not able to conquer later developmental tasks is common. Psychological malapropisms such as this contribute to preventing the industry from really healing people and offering them things that help them with generativity needs. Too many providers think along these lines, fail to explore a message receiver’s experiences and do not train people towards getting generativity needs met
Sure, some of us who have had breaks from reality have had problems with things like guilt and shame in our history, but many don’t. Some of us may be industrious and have initiative, just like some “normals” are, and some not. These kinds of struggles can be addressed intermittently and developmental strengths may exist without the presence of trust. Likewise, we may have different levels of need in terms of intimacy and generativity, but we do have these needs just like everybody else. The idea that you can’t love someone else until you love yourself is an example of this kind of malapropism. If loving and caring for others is a strength, why not utilize it.
When a person has a first break, it is a real shame when, suddenly, all resources go to providers who set trajectories of permanent warehousing and poverty. I believe it is wise to invest in people who get special messages. Once they are either economically empowered or enveloped in a safe and healing community they can engage in generativity and dismantle the constructs that keep them shackle bound.
Indeed, people with psychological training or a belief in modern ways may be at a significant disadvantage in surviving a break. It is well known that in many third world countries with subsistence and indigenous practices, recovery is more common than in modern contexts. This proves to be true even when there is access to medication and the best practice: CBT for “Psychosis.” There are so many factors to consider when considering reality in this manner. It is a very mind-blowing and industry-condemning fact. I feel that getting important needs met like generativity is essential and can help more of us dismantle the paradigms that keep us defeated.
Although I function with a good job and a good relationship, I still struggle with the lack of safety I experience when dealing with mainstream community. Outside the community where I work as a facilitator, I prefer to stay at home where many of my needs are met with the canine who we just rescued three weeks ago. I prefer to adapt to the positive qualities I learn about from my current dog, Jayla, and focus on that present moment of joy she brings.
Meanwhile the apocalypse rages in the backdrop.