My way or the highway, and if you choose the highway it’s all his fault

My biorhythms were doing whatever it is they do when I strolled into Mad in America and read about Robert Whitaker’s presentation at NAMI. Or really, its aftermath.

Whitaker, as you may or may not know, is taking all sorts of flack for his research into the current state of psychopharmacological research and marketing, which you can find out more about in the books Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic. I have read both of them and although they are not without their rhetorical excesses (and of course I adore rhetorical excess but not usually mixed with science unless for artistic effect), the research Whitaker has put into them is thorough and very hard to argue with without resorting to very very tired canards about the plight and safety and whatever-tugs-your-heartstrings about the “mentally ill” as long as you don’t have to actually talk to any of them.

One day I will explain why I always put that term in scare quotes. Unless I already have, in which case I will probably do it again even so. But not just now. The short version of Whitaker’s message is something like: we–or those of us not involved in or with pharmacology industries–have no idea how little information we have been given about psychiatric medications, nor how much of what we think we do have is completely without empirical support. Whitaker has unearthed repressed research, inadequate methodologies, and a number of not-too-surprising instances where profit has short-circuited the scientific skepticism that is necessary to keep us from proclaiming that our knowledge is complete when it is in fact completely unmoored from any empirical observations because the money is nowhere near them.

Whitaker has made some enemies, of course. Many of them seem to think that the complexities of reality need to be hidden from some of us for our own good: specifically, those mental patients currently taking antipsychotics who truly need them. As you might suspect, precisely who needs their antipsychotics can vary depending on their relationship to the person you are asking.

A summary of this whole argument would take more energy than I want to expend at the moment, but Whitaker is currently living a snapshot moment that illustrates it, to my rickity mind, particularly well. So a link, and then the comment that those aforementioned biorhythms told me I had to leave after pouring one more cup of coffee, but with the part stuck back on the end that I cut out for the sake of not covering someone else’s blog page with my ranting. If you have time, read the comments (you can skip mine, I am reproducing it right here!); they shed quite a bit of light on the scene and had a great deal to do with whatever induced me to stop everything else I was going to do today to write what follows.

Whitaker’s post

My comment, plus extra bonus words:

No, you don’t have blood on your hands–and wouldn’t have even if Earley’s son had fared worse.

My very honest opinion, given the information given/linked here? Mr. Earley, I have no doubt, believes that he is trying to do the right thing for his son, and believes that “tough love” is a perfectly useful tool in motivating people to live up to their families’ and cultures’ expectations of them. But what I think I see is not at all unusual in the culture I live in (US, western, anglo-american–lots of names and none of them sufficient): our emphasis on individualism and personal responsibility often passes into brutality and abuse despite good intentions and in spite of every bit of love we believe we hold for those close to us.

Take your meds or get out of my house? It looks to me that Earley’s son was given a choice between two barely tenable alternatives, and the son took the one that he himself considered less painful, less risky, less likely to cause him great harm: he left home, alone, knowing what he surely knows about his capacity to handle difficult situations.

Being diagnosable with mental illness does not render us incapable of looking out for our own interests. Not knowing anything about Earley’s son, I can only speculate about why he chose to leave home rather than continue treatment when those were the only options available to him, but if I were going to analyze the situation further, I sure would want to know why he made that choice. I suspect the answer as to how best to serve his son could be found by listening to his son–for Earley, for anyone else.

Earley instead blames you for daring to uncover empirical facts and pointing them out where his son could see them. Controlling information access is a display of power. Possibly an abusive one. But it is endemic in our paternalistic culture and, for too long, has been an acceptable practice in caring for those whom we deem incapable of caring for themselves.

And yet Earley’s son did care for himself. He left home. This seems plain to me from here.

I suppose it might be a relief to be told that one’s child is suffering from a brain disorder and not reacting to, say, inhospitable conditions at home, using whatever means they can. But what I dearly wish could happen in public dialog would be for us to recognize that not only can no human behavior can be explained so simplistically, but there exists little evidence for those explanations we are given–or that we receive–as though they were studied, nuanced scientific conclusions.

We do not have to make a choice, when trying to explain emotional or neurological distress, between blaming refrigerator mothers and attributing it to well-documented brain disorders. Both of those figures are mythological and completely divested of any attention to the reality we ourselves live. But we do need to recognize that upbringing–and this is not a process confined to the traditions of any nuclear family, but a cultural and sociological process that continuously changes its focus–cannot be untangled from the physiological structures we inherit, in whatever shape, and which then develop in response to everything we ever perceive.

And, now apparently, we hear that we are shaped by many of the things our parents and grandparents perceived before any of us had begun to be iterated and reiterated by our own experiences. Take even the briefest critical look at our current understanding of neurological change and the mechanisms of inheritance: less comprehensive, less efficacious than our level of knowledge of these processes is only the degree of control we have achieved over any of them. We fancy ourselves master wizards when we are the neo-ist of neophytes.

My sense of what is called mental healthcare in the US is that, at the level of public discourse, it remains stuck in the positivist, enlightenment-era myth that not only will we be able to categorize and analyze any problem to complete resolution if we apply the briefest effort, but that we are always just on the verge of doing so, or that the last discovery finally put us over the top and now we have the magic key!

You know. Like Zyprexa, the wonder drug, showed us the way to cure psychosis. And a whole bunch of other disorders that we didn’t even know were disorders, much less similar enough to psychosis to be treatable with the same drugs!

I understand why we want these sorts of answers, and why we want them to be easy and without any implications for those considered normal, well-adjusted, and in need of nothing but their own self-sufficient selves. But as complex, intelligent, sensitive, and intensely social creatures, we are all implicated in each other and have been for millennia. Our relations are so complex we might never be able to name them all, but like our old Freudian unconscious, they will make themselves known whether or not we recognize them when they show up.

The desire to assign blame is tempting, I suppose. The more quickly the singular, locatable culprit can be found and punished, the earlier we can forget our own implications with what goes on nearby and return our self-image to its unblemished, untouched ideal. But it almost always leads us to overlook a great deal of detail and a great deal of what could be useful information.

And of course, a compassionate practice aimed at sorting out connections rather than offloading guilt onto the nearest neighbor might also stand some chance of making our multiple connections with our world much less painful.

It is apparent that many of us find those connections painful, is it not?

giving in to convention

So I thought about it for a little while and decided that I could capitalize the sentences on the longer, denser parts of undiagnosed without totally compromising my artistic integrity.

There are so many things wrong with that sentence I am not sure where to begin but I do realize that pretty much every part of undiagnosed is dense and long and I do not hold a great deal of reverence for “artistic integrity” not least because I mostly have no idea what the phrase refers to in its usual contexts and also I have no desire or energy to supply it with a coherent referent in this context here probably because integrity may not be salvageable in the linguistic communities I belong to and I may think good riddance to that so why devote much more effort to it.

But so what I decided then was something like I could capitalize those sentences that appeared to me to be sentences in the last two pieces I put up at undiagnosed and still like how they read. I will admit to a bit of compromise and if I ever were to have the opportunity to print undiagnosed as a book I might uncapitalize the sentences I just capitalized because once it is in print I am a little less concerned as to whether it is readable.

Well actually I am ambivalent about whether or not I want the sentences capitalized and so as long as I am not absolutely sure they must be done one way or the other I figure I might as well make them a bit more readable now since ultimately I do want readers and I do think what I am writing might be worthwhile for someone out there to read or parts of it at least and I do not want to purposely throw up obstacles to reading without a really good reason and I am not sure my reasons are all that good or even all that clear even to me. That is I know why I have not been capitalizing most sentences but I am not myself convinced that it is a necessary method for doing what I am trying to do.

That is there might be other methods that work just as well or it may be that I do not need other methods or the no-capitals method. We will see.

So a bit friendlier, here:
stalking feet
covert citizenship in the land of one thousand dances
I am however fairly certain I do not want to capitalize the titles.


I keep forgetting what I have written here and what I have written someplace else. I have in fact made some mention of where last year went and by last year I mean from about May 2012 until just about right now and possibly some after now because psych med adjustments and withdrawals are unpredictable thus however almost normal relatively speaking that is I may be today I cannot postulate anything about tomorrow other than that if I see the sun come up I will have been able to open my eyes. But for instance I cannot take for granted that if I open my eyes after sunrise I will see anything at all. Not because my vision has been particularly skitterish but because consistency on a large scale has been quite so and for long enough that I have left off counting on anything.

This is not to say I do not rely on anyone or anything. I do. And but as much anguish as it might cause to be deprived of any of the persons or other collections of heterogenous energies that I have come to regard as necessary for my own stability I have very little sense of any force of continuity that might compel any of them to continue to exist or to appear or to congregate as such.

Incredible as this might sound this outlook is much more peaceful and comforting than most any other I have been able to put together on the basis of experience and judgment and reasoning or whatever borked neurological structures may be trying to compose experience or judgment or reasoning for me. It took decades to get this far.

Tautology: it takes decades to grow old.

Anyway what happened was this: stalking feet and I have not posted anything like it over here. That is some of what is posted there explains some of what came to pass between last year at this time and this year at this time. I do not know if it will explain anything or even if there is any need for an account of where I went beyond that account I keep for myself which account is not fully laid out there to begin with but I had thought I already made a note here about what I did for summer fall winter and spring vacation but I see now that this is not the case.


Since posting stalking feet I have also finished and posted covert citizenship in the land of one thousand dances. These two installments are the grand total for 2013 so far.

As already noted, that is all there is to say about what I might write after today.

sort of like you know I’m not sure but definitely I will think about it yes

I found this at How to Make Money Writing Poetry (Part One):

  1. Always use keyword research when you are writing material that you will use to draw traffic or to make money online.
  2. Use Keyword Research to select your blog niche, blog title and blog URL. Preferably you want to select popular AND profitable keyword terms.
  3. Use keyword research to select blog topic posts and write blog posts or poems based on profitable and popular keywords.
  4. If you already have a collection of poems for your blog posts package them such that they fall into a profitable keyword niche.
  5. Make sure you include the main keyword at the beginning of the title of your blog post (so that it will show in the URL of the blog post) e.g. A Sad Love Poem by Your Name: Love Lost. Keep in mind that for branding purposes, keyword research and search engine optimization, the poem niche and your name are more important than the title of the poem.
  6. Make sure that you include your main keyword in the body of your blog post and in the tags. You should also try to include related popular keywords.

Some backstory:

I am doing a research project. It is really the same one it has always been and it is not particularly distinct from any of the other concrete things that I work on but it may have been for instance my primary topic of academic writing if I had kept to a course in which academic writing was the sort of writing I was doing but since I am not so much writing of academic pieces even though everything I do write would have been impossible to write without having for a long time been an academic and without still being more or less in study more or less all of the time this research project is not precisely an academic research project but it is not precisely not one either.

The topic, broadly, could be put this way:

What the fuck.
I mean.
What. The. Fuck.

I could spend some time detailing the many contexts in which I so often say or read or hear about this approximate topic but I do not know that I could do this adequately in fewer than 5000 words and I am not up to 5000 words today and besides it would take at least 10,000 to really explore all the genres of what the fuck. So this is but a bare outline of where my own overburdened incredulity has led me up to this point:

I am looking at the colonization of Europe by specific human species and groups starting around 45,000 years or so ago through the fall of the Roman Empire and the Christian conquest of what is often called paganism. I am looking at the development of the idea of individuality in Europe and the Americas. I am looking at the geneaology of dualistic structures in mainly European and USian traditions of thought and inquiry. I am looking at USian psychiatry’s approach to diagnosis and treatment of “mental disorders” and I am looking at whatever relationships might suggest themselves between cultural trauma and abusive child-rearing philosophies.

I am also trying to track my own family’s history in the US and in Europe at so many times and places I have no hope of putting anything in narrative order. I am looking at USian imagery and discourse on disability, responsibility, and productivity. I am looking at the broad spectrum of outcomes of treating the designated symptoms of PTSD with neuroleptics, mood stabilizers, SSRIs, SNRIs, novel antidepressants, anticonvulsants, stimulants, and whatever else might be deemed possibly beneficial.

I am also looking at what I think I see as a tendency in disciplines practicing the scientific method toward reductive haste and over-confident explanation and investigating ensuing patterns of having repeatedly to recognize greater complexity in observing and theorizing empirical reality.

So. You know.

Over the weekend I decided to try to read one of the many texts I have been accumulating on these and related subjects only to find that once again I had to stop after less than ten pages and go write.

I say once again because this has been happening with greater and greater frequency over I would reckon the last two or three years. Maybe longer but I think in 2010 I could still finish a book-length academic text and in fact did so although I am not sure which one because I have completely lost track of what I have started to read and what I have read all the way through and what I am in the middle of and what I have put down because I was sleepy or exasperated or disgusted or curious about cited sources or excited about curious sources or so energized that I had to go take a five-mile walk.

And so I went to write. And I can even say that I was successful at least to the degree that I did indeed write even to the point of finishing a section of unDiaGnosed or that is writing enough on it that I was reasonably willing to post it for public consumption and so did just that.

I do not know what I am going to try to do next but it will probably be a response to this growing hunch that it is time to write and that if I try to do other than write I am probably going to be frustrated and depressed and cranky and unbearable even and especially to myself.

And although I do write because I cannot not write or that is when I write it often is the case that not writing was not so much an option I also do write in hopes that someone will read what has been written and find it appealing or useful or amusing or not a complete waste of time and because this has happened before I do actively search for readers although “actively” is sometimes of necessity not particularly active-looking to anyone not familiar with the way I am put together and sometimes that anyone includes myself.

But so the SEO Poetry tips were the result of a Google search looking for suggestions on how to broaden one’s online audience and of nearly everything they say one should do there is almost no chance that I will do any of it except maybe ponder some basic web user interface problems which I have historically tossed to the winds because I was not really trying to make things easy to find and certainly not trying to create descriptive links and in fact usually wanted you to have no idea what a given link would produce when clicked. I think though that I might have to make a concession or two at least for the purposes of providing clear paths to anyone who might actually be trying to find a thing because they want to read it. On the other other hand this thing that I write that might be a blog but is sporadic and without direction although I am not all that interested in furnishing it with any particular sense of direction I would like it to be somewhat less sporadic in some way that might actually render me able to pull off something like a change in direction for the collection of writing sites that are nominally mine and that I consider active even if I have not posted in two years on at least one of them.

Something might happen here is what I almost mean to say. I do not know what. I do not know if anything at all will happen but if say I were to find energy enough and to enjoy any period of what they call productivity at all I would like to try a couple of things. None of them are SEO poetry.

Unless they are. Because I did stop in my rush to make fun of the How to Make Money Writing Poetry (Part One) tips and wondered what it might be like actually to follow these tips without following them. Or to take them as occasions for making something they probably were not trying to help me put together. Because when it comes to cultural subversion I am pretty much about straight-on perversity or certainly what usually results is abruptly orthogonal even to what I think I am trying to do.

What I mean is that I do not think I will be writing ironic SEO poetry not just because irony has been chewing on its own tail for so long now that it has practically devoured the distance from itself that it requires of itself but more because I still do best at associational perversity. I may forget about SEO poetry altogether and make no response at all but I am still going to think about it. Or something else.