Category Archives: Health

lES MALADIES MENTALES? MENTAL ILLNESS, DOES IT EXIST?

Français then English, paragraph by paragraph.

Pourquoi Il ne faut pas accepter les diagnostics de la Psychiatrie, ou

La normalité n’existe pas!

Bien que les psys parlent des maladies mentales comme si elles vraiment existent, les termes qu’ils utilisent nous montrent que les maladies mentales sont imaginaires et mythiques. Comme tout le monde le sait, les constellations célestes ne sont qu’imaginaire et ce qui constitue Orion pour l’Ouest, c’est quelque chose de différent dans l’Est, qui utilise tout à fait différemment des éléments célestes. Les psys utilisent ce terme aussi, “les constellations”, et ils ont construit leurs constellations d’une manière complètement analogue.

Although shrinks speak of mental illnesses as if they really exist, the terms they use show us that in fact “mental illnesses” are imaginary, the stuff of myths. As everyone knows, the nighttime sky is made up of constellations that are imaginary and that what constitutes Orion for the western world would be meaningless to someone in the east. The Chinese have a zodiac but it is entirely different from ours. Shrinks use this term also, constellations and they have constructed their constellations of mental illness in an entirely analogous fashion.

Parmi des centaines de comportements humaines, la conférence du DSM, composé de  psys, a choisi ceux qui vont ensemble (mais pas toujours et pas tout le temps) pour constituer une maladie mentale comme la schizophrénie ou la bipolarité ou la dépression. Comme dans les menus des restaurants chinois on choisit quelque chose de chaque groupe de symptômes — on peut être trop agité ou trop léthargique, ou on peut entendre des voix ou avoir des pensées “différentes” qu’on étiquette les délires, ou on peut faire les choses trop vite ou trop lentement etc— mais en utilisant une formule de leur création, en trouvant ces constellations dans les personnes/ patientes les psys peuvent alors diagnostiquer n’importe qui.

Among the hundreds of human behaviors possible, the committee of the DSM, all shrinks, have chosen those behaviors, (called symptoms but they are really just behaviors ) that go together —but not always and not all the time—to make up a mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar or depression. Just as we choose food at a Chinese restaurant, or used to, they choose something from certain groups of symptoms — one can be too agitated or too lethargic, one can hear voices or have delusions, or one can do things or speak too fast or too slow etc — but using a formula they created, finding these constellations in the people who visit them, their patients, these shrinks can then diagnose anyone at all.

La chose la plus importante à savoir c’est qu’exactement comme les motifs ou dessins imposés dans le ciel que nous appelons les constellations célestes, ces constellations psychiatriques sont basées dans l’imaginations (assez limitées) des médecins du DSM. Les constellations célestes n’existent que dans les histoires et les mythes grecs, c’est à dire dans l’imagination, et le fait que tout le monde les voit dans le ciel ne dit qu’une chose, c’est que nous avons appris à les voir. Mais nous voyons les constellations psychiatriques et les maladies mentales parce que nous avons appris les voir. Mais elles existent seulement parce que nous les avons accepté sur parole et leur réalité de plus. Nous nous sommes dit, « oui, ce que je vois, c’est une chose réelle cette constellation, cette maladie mentale, et je suis d’accord. » Mais les chinois ne voient pas Orion, n’est-ce pas? 

The most important thing to know is that exactly like the imaginary drawings superimposed on the starry sky, psychiatric constellations are also based in the imaginations (perhaps rather limited) of the DSM committee shrinks. The celestial constellations only exist in the stories and myths of the Greeks, which is to say, they are imaginary and the fact that everyone in the west “sees” them only suggests one thing, that we have been taught to see them, these artificial groupings. But we “see” psychiatric constellations, the so called mental illnesses, only because we have also learned to “see” them. Their reality depends on the fact that we have been taught to see them and accept their “reality”. We have said to ourselves, “yes, what I see, it’s something real, this constellation, this mental illness,  yes, I agree.”

But ask yourself, do the Chinese “see” Orion? And if not why not?

Et il ne faut pas voir ou accepter l’existence réelle des choses, des constellations ou des maladies mentales. Si on disait que faire les choses vite ou lentement, ce n’est pas un symptôme mais juste une différence humaine, qu’entendre des voix ou que voir les choses imaginaires, c’est un don pas un symptôme, et que ces deux tendances ne sont pas liées dans une constellation pathologique, les soi-disant maladies mentales se révèleraient ensuite n’être rien de plus que de l’imagination, une fantaisie peut être, mais une création imaginaire de psychiatrie, quelque chose qui n’a jamais existé vraiment.  

It is not necessary to either see or accept as real these celestial constellations or the psychiatric ones, called mental Illnesses. If we said, for example, that doing things fast or slow, that’s not a “symptom” just a human difference between people, if we said that hearing voices or thinking different thoughts is a gift rather than a symptom, and that these human differences are not somehow inextricably linked in a pathological “constellation”, the so called mental illnesses would reveal themselves to be nothing but imaginary, a fantasy perhaps, but fundamentally an imaginary creation of psychiatry, something that actually never existed.

La prochaine fois je vais discuter la réalité de la souffrance mentale, qui n’est pas la même chose qu’une maladie mentale.

Next time I will discuss the reality of mental suffering, which is not the same thing as a “mental illness.” 

WHAT TO EAT ? QUOI MANGEZ-VOUS?

French version first. English version just below it.

 Manger ou ne pas manger des animaux

Ce qu’on mange le soir ou pendant la journée — ça compte, et pas juste pour l’individu mais pour la planète entière. Si on choisit de manger ou de ne pas manger la chair des animaux, c’est une question sur laquelle repose notre avenir en tant qu’êtres humains, et l’avenir de la plupart des espèces des animaux aussi. 

Je vais commencer avec les arguments contre la consommation de viande, ou peut-être pour mieux dire, les arguments pour la consommation des plantes seulement. Il y en a trois, principalement: la cruauté, l’environnement, et la bonne santé. 

D’abord l’argument de la cruauté: la plupart des gens ne mangent pas les animaux qui, après avoir mené une  vie heureuse dans les verts pâturages, sont tués d’une manière douce. Non, notre bœuf, notre poulet, et notre porc (et aussi notre poisson!) viennent des fermes-usines, et les animaux après avoir vécu leur vie dans des conditions épouvantables et surpeuplées souffrent d’être tués cruellement. On doit espérer que leur  mort leur apportent quelque soulagement, mais je crois que les gens qui continuent de manger de la viande ne le feraient plus si ils devaient visiter une ferme-usine et regarder les animaux lorsqu’ils sont en train d’être tués. Une telle cruauté peut exister et continuera à exister seulement tant qu’elle peut être cachée, tant que nous pouvons l’ignorer.

Le deuxième argument en faveur de manger des plantes seulement concerne l’environnement. L’élevage des animaux pour nous nourrir est quelque chose qui utilise trop de carbone, trop d’énergie, et ça coûte à l’environnement. De plus, les vaches émettent trop de gaz à effet de serre comme le méthane, et nous leur donnons à manger des céréales qui auraient pu nous nourrir. L’élevage des animaux juste pour que nous puissions les manger représente une grosse perte de temps et d’argent et d’énergie.

Le point finale concerne la santé. Plusieurs personnes diront qu’il faut manger de la viande pour la santé, insistant que sans manger de la viande on ne peut pas obtenir assez de protéines. Mais ce n’est pas du tout vrai. Chaque espèce de légume et céréale a des acides aminés. On ne doit que les combiner prudemment. D’ailleurs, on a montré maintes fois que de manger de viande nous nuit, avec trop de cholestérol, trop de graisses saturées et pas assez de vitamines et de fibre pour notre bonne santé. En outre, quand on mange de la viande on risque des maladies cardiaques et des artères obstruées. 

Vraiment pourquoi manger de la viande? Il n’y a qu’une raison aujourd’hui, le goût. Le goût est indéniablement agréable, au moins pour ceux qui ont grandi en mangeant de la viande et ont appris à l’aimer. Mais on peut apprendre à aimer les légumes autant que la viande, et on peut apprendre à réserver le goût de la viande aux occasions spéciales comme des anniversaires. Comme le gâteau, la viande doit devenir seulement une rare gourmandise, pas quelque chose de la vie quotidienne.

Enfin, on peut faire le choix d’une comportement plus humaine, de la bonne santé, de la protection de la planète, ou du goût quotidien de la chair des animaux tués, et toutes les choses qui s’en suivront. 

Alors, qu’est-ce que vous allez manger ce soir?

ENGLISH VERSION, (published in the Brattleboro Reformer 12/2020)

 What you eat for supper, or during the day matters, and not just for the individual but for the entire planet.  Whether we choose to eat or not to eat the flesh of other animals is something on which our future as human beings rests, and the future of most species of animals as well.

 I’ll start with the arguments against eating meat, or maybe better put, the arguments for eating only plants.  Basically, there are three: cruelty, the environment, and health.

 First, the cruelty argument: when we consume meat, most people are not eating animals that have been killed in a painless humane fashion, after having led lives of contentment in lush green pastures.  No, our beef, our chicken, and our pork (and also our fish) come from factory farms, and the animals are killed after living lives crammed together in unspeakably miserable conditions.  Hopefully their deaths bring some relief, but I believe people who continue to eat meat would no longer do so if they had to visit a factory farm and watch these animals being killed.  Such cruelty can and will continue to exist only as long as it remains hidden away so we can ignore it.

 The second argument for a plant-based diet is the environment.  Raising animals for food uses too much carbon, too much energy, and that has an effect on the environment.  In addition, cows emit many greenhouse gases, methane among them, and we feed them the grains that could have fed us.  Raising animals — cruelly, for the most part, mind you— just so that we can eat them is a huge waste of time and money and involves the expenditure of excessive carbon energy.

 The final point is health.  Many people would argue that eating meat is necessary for one’s health, insisting that without meat one cannot get enough protein.  But that is not true. Yes, animal flesh contains “complete protein” but our bodies have to break this cow or chicken or fish protein down to its amino acids in order to re-construct the proteins in human bodies. What is more, every species of vegetable and all the grains contain amino acids, these same building blocks of protein.  As vegans and vegetarians have shown for a long time, one need only prudently combine them to get “enough protein”.  In fact, we have seen how often eating meat causes problems, as it contains too much cholesterol, too much saturated fat and not enough vitamins and fiber for anyone’s good health. It is precisely because of these factors that when we eat meat we risk heart disease and blocked arteries.

Why eat meat?  There is only one reason today: the taste (called umami) and mouthfeel of meat is undeniably unique. Those who grew up as I did, eating meat, learned to love it. But appreciating the taste of meat is just something one learns, just as one learns to love vegetables— by familiarity. One can learn to prepare vegetables just as lovingly as meat; it is a choice we make, but one with profound consequences. We need to learn to enjoy the taste of meat or fish only on special holidays like birthdays and just like birthday cake, meat or fish should become a rare treat in our lives, not something consumed everyday.

 In the end, one can choose for a kinder life, for good health, and for the planet, or one can choose to eat meat, to consume the flesh of animals raised and killed for that purpose, and everything that follows from such a choice.  

What are you eating for dinner tonight?

———————

I would add to this also an argument against eating eggs, since that too ends with the non-laying hen being eaten and if you don’t know what happens to all the boy chickens, the roosters, if you even wonder, you should look into it. After all half of all chicks are male, and most are seen as useless…so think about that when you eat a supposedly free range farm egg. No eggs are ever truly cruelty free.

Vegan coconut macaroons


These are extremely easy and much less time consuming than vegan meringues and in fact they use only one additional ingredient, unsweetened shredded coconut (not fresh and not the presweetened kind). They take about’10 minutes to make and 20 minutes (or 1 hour 20 minutes)* to bake. Decorating takes maybe another few minutes depending on what you do.

*see version 2 below in baking instructions


preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

1/3 cup aquafaba (juice from canned chickpeas)

1/4 tsp Xanthan gum (or you can use cider vinegar)

1/2 C sugar

1/2 tsp almond extract

2 3/4 cup to 3 C unsweetened shredded coconut

chill all your tools including the Aquafaba for 15-20 minutes

if you are using vinegar, add it to the aquafaba. And start beating on medium high. If using Xanthan gum, wait till soft peaks form then add Xanthan gum. Add almond extract at the soft peaks stage too. When you have reached nearly the stiff peaks stage, start slowly adding sugar, one Tb at a time. Finish adding the sugar Tb by Tb, and your aquafaba should be glossy, bright white and it should stick to the bowl if turned upside down. Gradually fold in, half cup at a time, all the coconut. Then place by scoopfulls on parchment on a baking sheet. DO NOT FORGET PARCHMENT PAPER, or these will stick. I did not have a small scoop so I just used a tablespoon measure. But you can make them larger or smaller.

Version 1: Bake at 325F for 20 minutes. Tops should be just a bit browned and bottom edges light brown too. Remove sheet from oven but allow the macaroons to cool before removing from baking sheet parchment.

Version 2 (a stabler cookie, a bit more dense but doesn’t fall apart so easily.) bake at 350 F for 20 minutes then remove from oven. Lower temp to 250 F and wait for oven to cool to that temp then replace the baking sheet in oven and bake at this low temp for 60 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven but Let cookies cool before removing them from the parchment paper.

I find version 2 makes these cookies much less fall-apart-able and a bit more dense while the taste remains the same.

to decorate, combine 3/4 C choc chips and 1/2tsp coconut oil and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave again. Keep doing this for 30 seconds at a time until choc is Half-melted. Remove from microwave and stir in 1 tsp coconut oil and stir till all is liquid.

You can coat the bottoms by dunking them in the chocolate and then replace on parchment and refrigerate till chocolate is firm or you can take a spoon and just drizzle chocolate across the cookies. Refrigerate till gloss is gone from melted chocolate.

These are light and delicious and won’t last long.

However you can store them in an airtight jar too.

happy eating!

Vegan meringues

This is an unbelievably easy recipe using 3-4 ingredients, 1) the juice from a can of chickpeas, 2) 2/3– 3/4c granulated sugar or powdered sugar 3) vanilla (which is optional) 4) 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum, found in gluten free sections of grocery stores but this is also optional (though it stabilizes the meringues and is very helpful).

Do NOT use cream of Tartar, which is an acid and will unpleasantly flavor your meringues.

Preheat oven to 230F.

First chill all your utensils, bowl and mixer blades and the bean juice (“aquafaba”) for at least an hour.

If using regular white cane sugar, spin it in a coffee grinder for a few seconds to reduce the crystal size. Or use powdered sugar. But I have had much better results with finely ground granulated sugar.

Pour bean juice into chilled bowl and start beating with electric mixer at medium speed. This should quickly froth up then become foamy and begin to turn white and make low peaks.

When you have low soft peaks forming, add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum.

Start adding sugar slowly, on Tb at a time, beating with mixer in-between each tablespoon….. until all is incorporated. Add a capful of vanilla or almond extract.

Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Aquafaba should now look bright white, glossy and opaque, very much like egg white meringue.

You can either pipe this from a pastry bag onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet or use a round spoon to make kisses. Dont forget parchment paper or these will stick! Depending on size, Bake at 250 F for 90 minutes (approximately). After an hour check them without opening oven door, and turn off oven when tops are slightly browned but do not open the door. Leave meringues in oven to cool for at least an hour or two. When cool, they should be crisp, sweet, and delicious. Store in airtight bin or container.

How trump wins in novemBer…

I am no longer concerned about the tepid, milquetoast candidate Biden, whom most of the country hopes will beat Trump in November 2020. I was concerned. I was concerned that Biden is too middle of the road and lukewarm to promote anything like progressive policies and I feared he simply wanted the USA to go backward, “back to the halcyon days of Obama’s presidency”.  But now the fact that Biden is tepid has faded to meaninglessness. 

Now I am fearful, indeed terrified, that Trump will WIN the election and not by his usual cheating, but hands-down, popular vote as well as electoral college.

How could this evil SOB actually win the election somewhat fair and square? This is how: we have seen how the Senate refuses to negotiate with the House about extending funding for various Covid19 assistance programs, including unemployment and a moratorium on evictions, help for mortgages. This has frustrated the House no end. But even negotiations with The Royal Dumpster himself have led nowhere. But Savior Trump now says he will use executive orders to end the deadlock, and he will of course take responsibility himself for having helped people. 

This is of course illegal, because only Congress has the power of the American purse, but — and here’s the rub— when the House objects and files a lawsuit to stop Trump, he and the Republicans, who don’t in general give a flying femtogram about anyone but themselves, will say, “Oh, just look! The selfish Democrats won’t help the American people in these awful pestilential days. No, instead they sue to stop Trump, who wants nothing but to help you!” And just watch the stupid american mind turn in wonder as we vote Trump in again. 

What is more, if Democrats go along with Trump’s usurpation of power from the Congress and allow his executive orders to go unchallenged, he will end or seriously limit payroll taxes, those taxes which pay for Social Security and Medicare. And we all know where that leads. 

But I see no way to stop Trump unless Democrats accede to all of the Republican senate’s 1+ trillion plan, a plan that of course helps few that need help and leaves most COVID-19-related national problems to fester and get worse.

This is mother-forking taken to its most sinister, and the SOB implementing it is demented and diabolical but I have to admit it’s as brilliant as it is demonic, and it is almost strategic…Trump is of course incapable of true thinking or of true strategy, but this evil will pass for it, and I suspect it will work, as the American population that we all are, we are just dumb enough to believe him, and maybe much much dumber than I ever thought. 

CRAP I want out of this god forsaken mother forking country!!!!!!

I really need some hope…

Michael E Balkunas MD, chief of psychiatry at New Britain General Hospital — what did he do?

This man is Michael E Balkunas MD

Michael E Balkunas MD psychiatrist in charge of W-1 at New Britain General Hospital in Connecticut
This man was solely responsible for the torture of patients on his unit

and he was chief of the W-1 unit of adult psychiatry at HOCC aka New Britain General Hospital in central connecticut in 2014, when I was hospitalized there for approximately a month. During that month he and his staff repeatedly brutalized me, including having guards strip me naked and restrain me, they laughed even as I said that they were enjoying the rape, spread-eagling my limbs into the restraint cuffs without even trying to cover me. This happened multiple times but when I informed the “doctor” what they had done, he hotly denied it, and called me a liar. But I was not and am not a liar and all I can say is, he was fucking the wrong person, because I hope to make his life the hell that he made mine… and I intend to do so by telling the truth, as loud and often as I need to. Because the truth not only will set me free, it just might one day teach monsters like Balkunas a badly needed lesson.

Done at Care Bed in St Johnsbury VT in Nov 2014 Pamela Spiro Wagner

When someone says, “I can’t breathe!” It means, “I CAN’T BREATHE!”

Naming names…

Late in the first decade of the 21st century,  I was assaulted by  nursing staff at the Hartford Hospital Emergency Room while alone in a single room with walls and a door, not just a curtained -off cubicle. Male nurses jumped on me to restrain me for a forced injection of Haldol. When I objected and struggled, one man put his hands around my neck and squeezed. I was very frightened and my eyeballs felt the pressure, and I couldn’t breathe. I said to the nurse who was positioning the needle, “I can’t breathe!” She clearly heard me because she looked over her shoulder at me and at the nurse who had his hands on my neck in a strangulation hold. She said, nonchalantly, “You’re okay…” But the thing is, I was not okay. I could NOT breathe! Understanding that the man strangling me would not stop as long as I was struggling, I decided my only chance lay in going completely limp, which I did  at once…and as he felt this under his knees and hands, he let go…I stayed limp and barely breathing until they were satisfied that the Haldol had been injected and I was not struggling. When the man who had been strangling me left, he leaned in near my ear and hissed, “That will teach you a lesson!” For the next half hour I lay there, unmoving and too terrified to make a complaint fearing he would come back and finish the job.

Psychiatric take down and restraint

 

I woke up the next morning at the Institute of Living (which i had objected to being  sent to, because of past abusive treatment there). I immediately tried to tell the interviewing doctor what they had done, but he just yawned and ignored all that I said. And as no legal services had ever been provided me though I had asked numerous times, I did not have any legal person to resort to and get help.

i was similarly assaulted by security guards at New Britain General Hospital, aka Hospital of Central Connecticut  in 2014, when they were ordered by a nurse to strip me naked and place me in seclusion… when I objected they restrained me in 4 points, and proceeded to strangle me while restrained in order to let the nurse inject three punishment drugs in my naked buttocks. When I told the chief psychiatrist Dr Michael E Balkunas afterwards what happened he clearly knew how bad it was as he said, “my nurses would NEVER do such a thing. You are lying.”  But of course I was not lying, though I did not feel that it was worth saying anything more to him, a sadist, so I simply walked away.

Pam In restraints at New Britain Hospital In CT in 2014
P. in Restraints in New Britain Hospital In May 2014

 

Later on, in 2015, I was assaulted by another ER nurse, Michael Colbeth, RN, in Randolph VT and my complaints were utterly ignored…the police took a report, yes, but ONLY from the nurse. They explicitly refused to so much as talk to me. Michael Colbeth was only charged with assault and my story more or less believed after the police chief checked the videotape, that was recorded only because the incident happened in the front entrance. I may post this video as I believe no one is identified. But am not sure if it is viewable.

My point is one that all police and medical staff MUST learn and understand, that when someone says “I can’t breathe” it is true! I suspect they are TAUGHT to believe otherwise, because when someone is beginning to choke while eating, but can talk, they are usually fine or at least such is what we are told…. But this is NOT the case when someone is unable to breathe due to outside pressure like the knee on George Floyd’s neck or the hands encircling my throat.

WHEN SOMEONE SAYS I CANT BREATHE, IT IS TRUE. THEY CANT BREATHE!

If Bloomberg buys Democratic nomination

I WON’T VOTE AT ALL!

go ahead, mayor Bloomberg buy your ads and your support as much as your billions can buy, but if you get the Democratic nomination Trump will benefit from me because I won’t vote at all. And I will persuade other democratic voters to do the same. You represent the absolute worst of American politics, because you think you can literally BUY the presidency…well I will NEVER vote for you !

I’ve had Medicare for 37 years and it has never failed me

Clostridium botulinum

Neisseria gonorrheaum

(The following was written by someone contributing to my blog who wants to remain anonymous)

I know that people are afraid of Medicare for all, that having private insurance provides more or better healthcare or that it is cheaper.

I have had medicare since I was 30 and not once did it ask me to pay up for my healthcare. MY Medicare, traditional medicare, only pays 80% of my medical bills however (as opposed to the 100% promised by Medicare for All) so as a very low income recipient, I was granted Medicaid to pay the other 20%.

Now that I am a senior, and thanks to inherited funds am no longer mired in poverty, I am also no longer eligible for Medicaid, But my Medigap plan F must pay that necessary 20%.

Medicare has paid for my clinic visits, hospital stays, every doctor I’ve ever seen (except for the few who did not accept insurance). It has paid for my X-rays and MRIs and colonoscopy and an operation. It has paid for physical therapy and joint injections. It has paid for my vision therapy, with its  weekly appointments for more than a year.

There’s nothing not to like. And I like it all. What I would LOVE from Medicare for All, is not having to find a way to pay for plan F (no co-pays), dental care, and vision care complete with refraction and the special very expensive glasses I need to wear to see.  Hearing care is or will eventually become necessary for many of us.  Dental care!

If EVERYONE is in the pool, and it is funded appropriately, all of this is possible. I know, because most European countries already do this and much more cheaply than the 16% of GDP which is what the U.S. pays.

I don’t understand the opposition to Medicare for All, when so many millions have no health care at all, and many more are under-insured with “copper” plans or no Medigap or Medicaid, so any major illness would drown them in debt. We all die, and most of us will spend, or have spent on us, many thousands during our final years. Most of us will not die suddenly, in the perfect bloom of health. So what gives? Unless you are a healthcare insurance executive or employee, in which case you have your job to worry about, I do not understand why you would want private insurance or anything less than Medicare for All.

Open letter to Elizabeth Warren

Sept 4, 2019

Dear Senator Warren,

I just watched your town hall appearance focussed on climate change, and even though I have been rooting for you and contributing to your campaign ever since you entered the race, I was thrilled to hear you mention both science, your faith in it, and the morass of corruption that characterizes everything in Washington DC. 

I know you don’t have a lot of time to read emails, if indeed you read this one, so I will get right to the point.

There is only one group of law-abiding American citizens who can be and regularly are deprived of their civil rights in this country, with utter impunity, and that is the group of us who have been diagnosed with serious mental illnesses, like schizophrenia and bipolar conditions. On the word of a psychiatrist or even in some cases just a masters-degree-carrying “counselor” we can be deprived of our freedom, institutionalized and forcibly drugged for months, even years at a time. Why? Because someone else believes we might be dangerous, even though in fact future violence is notoriously hard to predict, even some will admit impossible to predict.

 No one who has committed a crime is kept in prison because of possible future violence, no, what prisons are for, whether you agree with this or not, and I think it is shameful, is to punish, by applying violence to those who HAVE committed a crime.  But many, even most of us who have been forcibly hospitalized and drugged have never been violent towards any other person, period. Look at the statistics if you have not already. As those predict, i have been the victim of a violent crime, but never have I been charged with a single incidence of lawbreaking…

Senator, the thing is, if you believe in science, and in rooting out corruption, look at what is going on in psychiatry, and don’t just get the word of psychiatrists, or people who run the so-called mental health system. They either do no know or do not care about the extreme damage the drugs they force on us have done and are doing. They are either completely in cahoots with big Pharma, or they too believe the lies they taught us, that schizophrenia and bipolar conditions are real disease entities, chemical imbalances that such drugs ameliorate if they do not actually amend them. As you may learn, psychiatrists now claim they never said this, that we patients “made them say it.” But this is a lie, and the chemical imbalance lie is still being used on us and the general public.

Psychiatrists as a group do know the truth of what Thomas Insel, former head of NIMH, wrote just a few years ago, that they spent over 20 BILLION dollars in their effort to prove that these things are real neurochemical imbalances, with neuro-anatomic foundations, and in Insel’s words, they “have not moved the needle” on discovering either the cause or any effective treatment. 

And yet medication, drugs, are the ONLY treatment that hospitals offer Involuntary patients. In fact, if you are a willingly hospitalized patient, even then such drugs — which shorten the average lifespan by as much as 25 years — are de facto the only treatment. Sure there are “groups” but those who run them will tell you they are just to keep people busy, and are not intended to do anything else.

I am not one of the lucky wealthy people who have been treated voluntarily in posh private  hospitals. No, i have been beaten up and tied to a bed too many times to count, which is also involuntary treatment, in public and municipal hospitals, the only ones who took my Medicare and Medicaid, so I know where of I speak…

I could say so much more about this. I am a former medical student, and now an author and artist who was diagnosed and treated, in hospitals and out, for schizophrenia for decades.

The drug companies and psychiatrists lie when they say the drugs work. They do NOT lie when they say that is all they have…indeed it is! But is this right, to lock us up in hospitals because we are different and people claim we might be dangerous for being different? To drug us for life on compounds that drastically curtail our lifespans, and rarely increase our happiness, or our productivity as citizens? No, please see that a resounding NO is the only answer. 

And keep us in mind when you become our next president.

Sincerely,

Phoebe Sparrow Wagner

 

WHY CLAIMING “DISABILITY” DOES NOT ENABLE US

The essay below was written as a comment to this article posted on Facebook….

https://www.chronicle.com/article/Why-I-Dread-the-Accommodations/239571

There was much hew and cry about how ableist the writer of this article was. Here is my response.

“I’m asking for information here, as I do not understand the comments above. Please explain why this was “ableist” and offensive.

“To understand where I’m coming from, you should know that No accommodations were EVER available or suggested when I was a young college student with evident but undiagnosed narcolepsy, and diagnosed psychosis.

“To me, given that I had extraordinary difficulties in school, from high school and college and on into medical school, which I eventually quit, the notion that a professor would talk to me calmly about how my disabilities manifested was unthinkable. But what  was also unthinkable was that I consider myself “disabled”. I was not taught from a young age, or when extreme daytime sleepiness manifested itself, along with cataplexy during laughter, I was not taught that I deserved special accommodations for this. I did not learn to think of myself as disabled, though in fact narcolepsy and psychosis did severely impinge on my ability to function, and threatened my “future”…Because of my difficulties, I was only able to take 3 academic courses per semester, that is, 3 credits, plus a half credit for taking private recorder lessons. I did try to ask for help, in the form of delayed paper deadlines etc. And as a rule i was yelled at or worse, treated with utter contempt for making such requests…But, and this is important, despite my difficulties or disabilities, I did not learn to term mySELF disabled because of them.

“I have always had a big problem with this, the demand that I accept mySELF as disabled, or as the old word put it, invalid. Just as I now reject all psychiatric labels as false, and both dehumanizing and stigmatizing in their imposition as well as their acceptance because they label a person not just a problem, similarly I reject the label of “disabled” because it implies mySELF is disabled…I as a self (or soul, in old time parlance) am not disabled. No one is! We have certain differences, yes, but name me a single person who does not in some fashion differ from the imaginary and meaningless “norm”. Like many, i have nominally accepted the designation in order to get certain sources of necessary income, but in my true and inner self I never acquiesced to the idea that I am “permanently and totally disabled”. No. No. No.

“Yes, it is true I cannot and never could work an 8-hour day, 5 days or even 1 day a week, but that does NOT mean there is a single thing wrong with me, only that society is wrong to 1) demand it 2) decree that no other mode of living is acceptable.

“I am glad I never learned to FEEL disabled or deserving of special accommodations, even though had they been offered my life might have been very different. But having had a very, very difficult life  — and I’m 66 now — does not in my view make me either disabled or special. It gave me things an easy life would not have, and I learned much more compassion and understanding from having to struggle. “Failure” at a job or even at “functioning” in this society is not indicative of a global failure of self, or some inability to be, fully and competently mySELF, and I refuse to accept that my disabilities, my lack of ability to pass as a competently 9-5 working adult somehow makes me disabled. If I had learned to think that way, I doubt I would ever have found my art abilities at age 55 or started, at age 65, to pursue a new passion for the French language. If I felt disabled or that I deserved special treatment rather than that I could in fact do more than most people, but at a different pace and at a very different time of life than this youth-centered society expects, I would have obliged them and never done a thing.

“A self is not disabled by virtue of having a disabling symptom or aspect to themselves. A self is only disabled by *thinking* that they are disabled. But this thought in my view is life-killing and potential-killing. And despite cries to the contrary, I don’t think “disabled-me”-thinking serves the lives of those in the community of people with disabilities.”

 

“I am Asexual, not an Amoeba…”

Reposted from 2017, and 2013.

I wrote the bulk of this piece back in Connecticut in 2013, when i still believed in the concept of mental illness yadda yadda.  i am adding this preface in Vermont, from a place of much greater stability and even more firmness.

Asexuality is not a common orientation but it is not unknown or in any fashion abnormal. As i note below, a good 1% of the human population may be asexual all their lives and many, many more may find themselves “asexual” at some time in their lives. I put the quotations around the word because i believe that those who find themselves suddenly asexual while taking certain psycho-tropic drugs may not quite understand that it is the medications that have induced this change in them, but sometimes the state is an unnatural change from their native orientation and not a natural state of affairs.

if you happen to be naturally asexual, as i am, you surely know that it is not a state of being without discrimination. For one thing, people make assumptions about us that are almost always to our detriment, and they never bother to inquire first who or what we are about. For instance, i am 66, childless, unmarried, and unpartnered…and yet i like to contribute to the well-being of young people, and others, either by teaching them or by assisting them in other ways. If i were married with children, i believe my intentions would not be regarded with suspicion, but as it is, i feel frequently suspected as some sort of sexual predator. An asexual friend of mine evinced similar feelings, saying that he could not invite a friend from work out for a drink without that person clearly fearing that he was being “hit on” when all my friend ever wants is friendship from anyone, male or female!

I dont understand why the A in LGBTQIA stands for “allies” not for “asexual” and why there is still no place for us within it.

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Let me state this plainly so there is no misunderstanding: I am tired of people thinking there is something wrong with me just because I do not have a husband or boyfriend/lover or even a girlfriend/lover or a love-interest of any kind. I am not interested in sex and have never been interested in sex for whatever reason. This does not distress me and it never would have in the past, had others not insisted that it ought to. I have finally come to the conclusion that being asexual — definition: having no interest in a sexual relationship with another person — is okay.

I am not unhappy. I get a lot done and I am likely more satisfied by my life as an asexual than someone who is sexual and without a partner. I am never lonely. And I have tons of friends. (At least 16 friends — all of whom I adore — came to my 60th birthday party!)

It has taken me, via a tortuous up and down path, a long time to come to this position. And there may well be those who shake this foundation yet, as other people’s opinions, alas, still manage to have a strong effect on me. I have never told openly the story I am now going to relate, but I think it is time. It should be an eye-opener and a warning to those who believe they have the right, even the duty to “help” a young person discover “her true identity…”

As some of you know, a very long time ago, I was a student in a medical school in Connecticut. The two years I attended med school were extraordinarily difficult ones for me and I admit now that even as I matriculated, I “knew” at an almost conscious level that I would never get through. I didn’t honestly want to be a physician. Not really. Oh, yeah, I thought I could be a good psychiatrist. I knew that I understood people and mental illness enough to empathize and help others. But the notion that I could successfully get through four years of med school and four years of residency in order to achieve that goal was something I also knew would be impossible, even as I nominally attempted to undertake it. I had no choice. It was what you did in my family. And there was no question in my mind that I could work at a “regular 8-hour a day job.” I simply didn’t have the stamina either interpersonally or physically. I didn’t know why, I just didn’t. (I also didn’t understand that I had narcolepsy, so I construed my constant drowsiness as “boredom” for everything.)

So there I was in med school, without the ability to make friends or any interest in relationships, especially having just broken up with Bruce, the one boyfriend I had had and with whom I had sex (because he pushed it). I hated it…which was why I broke it off. I know I was noticed. I felt noticed. Possibly because I made little effort to be friendly, possibly because my narcolepsy made me noticeable. I don’t know. It is not that I was a striking person at 5′ 3″ and 105 lbs…hardly! Perhaps it was my mere aloneness that struck people. I dunno.

Things were hard to start with, but then the voices started up telling me to hurt myself and I acted on their commands, frequently. I had horrific nightmares almost every night. And I could not stay awake in class or study, no matter what I did. People had all sorts of advice and jokes for me but no understanding. They gave me No-Doz and Vivarin for my birthday, which precipitated a caffeine-toxic all-night-up of horror. They took photos of “Rip van Winkle” sleeping on the med school lobby couch and published it in our newsletter. No one knew what was really going on, at home, at night, in my bedroom when the voices took over.

I had a run-in with the student health doctor, Dr E, to whom I had gone about possible Reynaud’s Syndrome. When she saw certain open wounds and scars on my body she became concerned and spoke with the psychiatrist I was seeing at the time. Dr S, who was a cold man who seemed to dislike me from the start, was angry at our next appointment for “parading” my wounds and warned me against ever doing so again.

I went back to Dr E and told her what Dr S had said. She seemed perturbed and gave me the name of a therapist that she said she often referred “troubled students” to. I might consider seeing Tamara instead of Dr S. The other students liked her a lot, Dr E said. What were their problems? I asked. Dr E shook her head and responded, Not so very different from yours.

——————-

I sit nervously in the waiting room, hoping that Tamara will be so late she won’t have time to see me today after all. I feel sick to my stomach and wonder why I’ve come. Five minutes late, ten minutes late. I am just about to leave when a very pregnant woman opens the door to the office and welcomes me in. I do not look at her face but whisk myself inside, trying not to guess how many more weeks she has.

Before she asks me anything, Tamara says, “Now, I see girls who like girls and boys who like boys. You’re okay with that?”

What is she talking about? I don’t understand. Girls who like girls? I like girls, I like boys. Why shouldn’t I be okay with it? So I say, yes. And assume that even so, she sees people whose issues are very different…

I didn’t ask her. I simply assumed that she had other interests. And went on from there. But it was critical, because I did not get that she was conducting therapy as if I had agreed that I was a lesbian, and yet I had made no such admission. I did not even understand what she was getting at. Why was she so coy? Why didn’t she just come out and ask me whether or not I was gay and then tell me that she only treated lesbians and gays with issues around their sexuality?

As it turned out, she had no idea that I was not in fact assenting to her coy proposition that I “liked girls.” On the contrary, if she had asked me point blank, I would likely have said, “Me? No way. I am not even interested in boys. I couldn’t care less about sex. I like, but don’t love, boys and girls…so to speak.” But the operant word, clearly, was not “like” at all, but love, as in “making love.”

Actually, in point of fact, I would not have been able to respond at all, if I remember my former self accurately. I was nearly mute much of the time, esp in therapy, and when I did speak it was often very cryptically and with difficulty making my meaning understood or clear. This may account for the misunderstanding that so horrified me in what follows.

It was a crazy-making psychotherapy for about 6 months. I had no idea what notion she was operating under, because I didn’t know what kind of therapy she “did.” Likewise, if she knew the least thing about me, it was completely mis-colored by her mis-understanding of me as a lesbian. So when one afternoon she “told” me that she empathized with me, because I had had a sexual relationship with my previous psychiatrist…I hit the roof.

“WHAT? What the F— are you talking about?!” I nearly leapt out of my chair.

“It’s okay Pam, I understand,” she soothed me.

“It is NOT okay! I never said anything of the sort! This is YOUR filthy mind! I’m out of here. Go to hell!” And with that I got up and walked out. I realized then that she was nuts. Somehow she had gotten the entirely wrong idea, but I didn’t understand how. It made no sense to me. Where on earth had she fashioned that notion? I certainly had never said any such thing…

Then her statement “I treat girls who like girls…” came back to me. And I understood more. Dr E surely knew Tamara’ orientation, her clinical expertise, so Dr E must have believed that I needed to talk about conflicts about my “homosexuality,” about “coming to terms with being a lesbian”, all unbeknownst to me. So she had set it up that I see Tamara, believing that she knew me better than I knew myself. But what right had she to do that? And how would she know whether or not I was a lesbian? Just because I was a conspicuous loner? How dare she? She knew nothing about me! What she had done was a violation of me as bad as any man who wanted to have sex just to prove he was Mr Right!

I spent a lot of time after that utterly paranoid that I might be gay, feeling that I must be gay, certain that I was gay…I even came to the point that I accepted it eagerly. But it was never true. It was just another identity forced on me by others who would not let me be. Who would not accept that I simply have never had interest in sex or sexuality beyond a pervasive non-sexuality. My libido, my psychic energy, is invested in other things, in art, in science, in French and in life, but not in erotic interests. And you know what? Being non-sexual or asexual doesn’t make me an amoeba, lacking in passion,  or less than human.

i repeat, I have many passions, I love life, but my passion is and has always been asexual. My libido is not somehow wrongly bound up in art or French etc. I am not suppressing something out of fear or because of trauma. This is who I am, a passionate but asexual being, period.

At least 1% of humanity is asexual, has always been asexual, lifelong and permanently. That’s a LOT of people. We may not be the norm, but there are enough of us out there to rate your acknowledgement and the respect you would pay to any other human being. That’s all we ask, that’s all I ask. And i ask

you not to try to change me just because you do not like it or understand my way of being. Thank you.