Friday, 10 January 2014

Claude Steiner on schizophrenia


Alienation from Our Minds, or from the Capacity to Think. 

We all have the capacity to understand the facts and workings of our world, to predict the outcome of events, and to solve problems. This capacity has been developed to a large degree by some people but has become unavailable to others who, in their alienation from their minds, are incapable of thinking in an orderly way. 
Because of the way people are treated from early childhood on, some grow up unable to use their minds effectively. They cannot keep thoughts fixed in their consciousness long enough to combine them with other thoughts so as to derive logical conclusions. At the same time, they cannot exclude from their minds chaotic thought patterns and emotions. Complete confusion and the utter terror of mental breakdown are the extreme form of this kind of alienation, which tends to be misdiagnosed by the psychiatric establishment as "schizophrenia." Those who suffer from mind alienation are singled out for the harshest and most unjust treatment.
Tranquilizing medication, shock therapy, imprisonment, padded cells, straitjackets, hot and cold water treatments, forced feeding, experimentation with dangerous drugs, and brain surgery have all been applied over the last century on people who have shown extreme forms of alienation from their minds. These methods, whose principal effect is to terrorize people into submission causing them to temporarily conform to the expectations of their “helpers,” have proven, one by one, to be totally ineffectual in anything but sweeping the problem under the rug. Recently, mental patient's right groups in some parts of the world have succeeded in curbing some of these abuses, but there is no doubt that the mistreatment of the "mentally ill" continues. 
Alienation from our minds is a result of systematic, lifelong lies and discounts. A discount occurs when another person denies the content of our experiences. If, in addition to being told that our experiences aren't valid, we are also fed false information in the form of lies, the combined effect is an interference with our thinking functions, which eventually can lead to total mental breakdown. 
One particular well-known form of alienation is known as "paranoid schizophrenia"; here the natural intuitive perception of the facts of our persecution, which some become keenly aware of, are systematically discounted by others who also often lie to explain away their oppressive behavior. People's budding perceptions of oppression, persecution, and abuse are most often effectively squelched and ignored; but for others, these perceptions can evolve into large-scale obsessions that develop into systems that, when elaborated, become fantastic and unreal, at which point they are called "paranoid delusions."
Radical Psychiatry holds that paranoia no matter how fantastic, are always based on a kernel of truth, and that is why we say that "paranoia is a state of heightened awareness." Consequently, we encourage the expression of people's "paranoid fantasies" by willingly searching for the grain of truth in them and validating whatever aspect of them that may be realistic.

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