This is a response to a message that was in response to a comment made within a comment on my recent writing @ Mad In America, re: “Spirituality & Recovery, Faith & Mental Illness.”
“I figured I’d hear from you re: my comment within a comment, which I only made because I was talking about how hard it is to not assume things, to project things…and how we really don’t have a right to think we know anything about anyone else’s situation or what may or may not be helpful for them.
It’s a tough tendency to break, because I do tend toward problem solving, which is how I worked out my understanding re: what you term messianism and what I am lately thinking about more in terms of human potential and simple facts about the human condition.
It’s the same thing we are talking about…your messianism is my human potential. I didn’t say that you (as a person) were the same as coercive psychiatry. That would be, of course, malarkey – to borrow a word you’ve used.
What I said is that the “mechanism” in your identification and recommendation for the so-called mad ones is the same “mechanism” that is operating whenever anyone thinks they know what someone else is about better than they themselves might know it.
The same “bugs me” that I have now – which is not anger or irritation, but the sense of a dissonance with things that I hold to be of great value…self-determination and the sanctity of story…well, it’s the same “bugs me” that I wrote to you about in our very, very early letters, in which I expressed concern over the handling of people’s stories, the analysis and exemplification. I wasn’t comfortable with that. It conflicts with my ethos.
It’s so hard not to talk about people, especially when certain folks could – if told the right way – be such fine examples of what we are trying to say, be they saints or sinners, losers or prophets, sick or brilliant.
I do think you’re right, of course, that some folks are sensitive and ought to be listened to. That makes sense to me, logically…when thinking about human beings as a species and what our role may be, how we might function as a species that contains stardust. If universal connection has the potential to result in very good, wise, and simple ideas about humanity, habitat, and the future…to bring out what is best and most true in us…well, it makes sense – from an ecological perspective – that the human species may have a component of consciousness that connects us to the consciousness of the world, the universe, patterns in time.
I have heard us called “sensors.” I have felt that I was an alarm. That is one of the themes in my psychosis writing…alarms. I did use the word sensor once, but then rambled off into some spiel about telepathic sanddollars and the tiny birds they carry, up from the ocean floor.
I don’t know much about religion. I don’t know much about anything. I do know, however, that it makes sense that there would be currents that carry the messianic forces (how else could they travel so far across time) and that we are in some way synchronized in relation to them, a branch on a fractal, flow determining flow.
If you’d ever bothered to read my layperson’s theory of human consciousness, you’d know more of what I was talking about…that I believe that the universal forces of electricity and magnetism carry particular characteristics in wave and nature. I believe that all things carry certain patterns, and that – by both learning and human instinct – we come to understand these impulses and echoes to mean something…and sometimes the code is for words in a sentence and sometimes the code is for feelings in heart…and we’re receptive beings.
It’s not, of course, so mechanistic as it initially sounds…the glorious mysteries of the human consciousness reduced to code…there are a hundred billion variables between signal, transmission, manifestation, interpretation, and reaction.
Anyway, I forgot what my original point was…other than to say, yes, I agree…while still maintaining significant reservations about the framing of these ideas in such a determinative and proprietary manner. I do think it is of immense value to have the option to safely explore one’s spiritual path and heart’s calling in the context of psychosis…but, I do not think that suggesting anything to anyone about their experience – other than, “Wow, that sounds like a lot to process.” – is really okay. People have to figure it out on their own. That’s how it works. It doesn’t have to be some big visible pride issue. I mean, that is where humility comes in…to be proud to be human, not proud to be suprahuman.
I don’t think I ever said that messianism is elite. I might have. In a way, it is. The word itself suggests leadership, a specialized vocation. I understand that my thinking it would make sense if there were sensors implies the assumption of some aspect of one’s being that is somehow more advanced or finely tuned than the broad population.
I don’t really think of it like that. I don’t really know how I think of it. I am still figuring that out.
I guess it just sort of smacks of guru, expertise…rare wisdom and hierarchy. I don’t like how those things influence the structure, function, and accessibilty of ideas.
Yeah, some people think I’m wise…but, that’s not cause I lost my mind and had a “spiritual experience.” It’s cause I lived through my own version of heaven and hell about a hundred million times over and fought my way back to the open field between the battles time after time after time.
…but it’s true, it is also because I lost my mind. When I was psychotic, I experienced a torrent of information and insight…on a near-constant basis, for months. Then it all got boiled down to a few simple truths…that if I had the time, I’d write down more coherently.
Well, this is getting long and it’s getting late. I helped to organize and host the first free multimedia arts show on the theme of mental health, sanity, and liberation that this town has ever seen. It was a very good night at the cooperative bookstore.
I have to go try to write a small assignment for one of my classes. I keep trying to get a formal review done on literature that would support articulation of an evidence-based integrative view of psychosis.
The kids are fine and happy. It’s still cold here though. We have some peas to plant this weekend.
One of my co-workers is no longer my co-worker and so I have to pick up a few more hours at work. It’s a busy time, but good.
So, I’m sorry if there was a misunderstanding. I have a right to view things as I view them and, as a member of this movement that is not a movement, I have a right to hold concerns when something that is about me, something that I care deeply about, something that is core to my own voice and my own story, is represented in a way that frames me inaccurately in the world.
I mean, hey, it happens. That’s media. People say whatever they want, as if they have a right to say anything about anything.
I won’t ask if you if you know how it feels to be driven to *do something* to try to save the world. Clearly, you have devoted much of your life to issues of justice, truth, and integrity. It’s a “heavy” feeling though, that feeling that the future of the world, the species, everything! …depends on you.
There really is no other feeling quite like it…a terrifying exhilirated narcissistic megalomania of ill-thought vocation. It’s really too much. People get terrible ideas, they say absurd things, they make poor choices in desperation and conviction.
I am privileged in ways that the sensitive and screaming in the back rooms, the back alleys, the old bar rooms are not. I happened to be good at analyzing myself and can dissociate (go into participant observer mode) as needed in order to gauge my participation in the world. I have a skill set that is of debatable social value. I know manners and I am considerate. I am creative and my physical features make me interesting and appealing to people. So, I have not had as hard a time in learning how to handle myself in such a way that my life sustainably accommodates who I am and want to be, whatever those things may be. Fortunately, I didn’t have to cope with, for example, being raised in a fundamentalist church or by a drunk father who watched football and screamed racist epithets at the television…I didn’t have to unlearn quite so many ideas.
I have worked for a long time at unlearning and contemplative mindfulness. I have spent hundreds of hours in a recovery education environment, exploring skills like emotion regulation, The Four Agreements, and use of the rational mind. I have had opportunities for community and empowerment, mentorship by some of the most amazing people. I am loved and affirmed within my
life…not everybody, as you know, has these things. I wish that they did, and believe that they could…but, it’s not so easy for everyone to find their footing between worlds, to learn how to leap from one to the other in perspective without falling flat on your face.
Oh, I guess I was going to end this installment. Full circle again…
We’ll talk sometime. I do not, however, argue with people. I can state my views and people can criticize them, but I don’t argue with people. Nobody has to agree with me. I am figuring out what my truth is, how it works and what it means.”