Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Winning back the right
to say my word to name the world

The thought is from Paolo Freire's "Pedagogy of the oppressed". I'll get back to that soon, after a detour to the word "recovery":

I was enchanted with the concept of recovery when I first read about it. And now that I have read a lot more, it seems to be moving from “helping with” towards something that looks like this definition that I found in a «Guide to Government health and social care jargon»:

Recovery: Persuade GPs and psychiatrists to tell everyone they are now well and don't need help - cut services. 

In Googling “recovery health”, I no longer get this Wikipedia article on the first page, I get links to what looks like a thriving recovery industry based on the good oldfashioned principle of "helping at".

And now "Psychiatry Embraces Patient-Centered Care" in a manner that seems aimed at medication compliance.

So I’ll be using the words “detangling” and “liberation” instead of "recovery". That fits into the story that I have never been “mentally ill”: I have reacted with natural defenses against societal harm, and I am liberating myself from both the harm and the defenses, mainly by working the words ... because  words are what I am best at. 

And in encounters with toxic psychiatry and psychology, working the words was seen as a defense against The Current Truth (it did keep changing) about me and my life and my problems. And I found this in my notes from way back then: 

"The help you offer I do not need. I do not need to be invaded by yet another story. I need to use my words to free myself from stories that others have brainwashed into me, so that my own story can emerge." 

Many years later I found a description of this process of liberation in Richard Shaull's foreword to the 1996 edition of Paolo Freire's "Pedagogy of the oppressed":
... every human being, no matter how "ignorant" or submerged in the "culture of silence" he or she may be, is capable of looking critically at the world in a dialogical encounter with others. Provided with the proper tools for such encounter, the individual can gradually perceive personal and social reality as well as the contradictions in it, become conscious of his or her own perception of that reality and deal critically with it. In this process, the old, paternalistic teacher-student relationship is overcome. A peasant can facilitate this process for a neighbour more effectively than a "teacher" brought in from outside. "People educate each other through the mediation of the world."

As this happens, the word takes on a new power. It is no longer an abstraction or magic but a means by which people discover themselves and their potential as they give names to things around them. As Freire puts it, each individual wins back the right to say his or her word to name the world.

And that brings me back to a definiton of recovery that has traction in my life:  "The regaining of what has been lost or taken away."

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