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Change of Name
- by Michael Paul
I sometimes wonder why people wish to change the name given to my state of mind, or my overall condition, by psychiatrists, namely, 'schizophrenia'. A rose by any other name would be as scary and unpredictable, not to mention sweet smelling ! We are all grouped together under this name, it seems, for convenience. If we don't agree that we are actually imagining things, but think something real is happening to us, we 'lack insight'. Lacking insight, amazingly is a sign that we are even more ill than we don't think we are ! If we disagree with anyone too vociferously, we have aggressive tendencies – fancy a patient raising their voice to a member of staff ! If people are talking about us, or acting strangely when they see us coming, we are 'paranoid' – people are all nice – they don't do that ! We are, it seems, just complaining about nothing – we are not hearing anything, or seeing anything, or really experiencing anything – it's all just a strange quirk in our chemistry or in our genetic build-up which makes us think all this...in other words...medical science cannot bring itself to admit we really are up against the wall sometimes – a wall which seems to not only have ears, but eyes and mouths too !!! Perhaps they just don't have time to do anything but medicate it all under the carpet...we are all just to go to sleep and forget about all these strange occurrences. If they gave it a new safer sounding name, would it help ? Soon someone would be doing something dreadful in the news and they would have 'a history of mental illness' . The comedians might still be saying to someone who seems a bit slow; 'are you on strong medication or something ? No ? Well, do you want some ? ' Etc. etc. Perhaps we should get some sort of image consultancy to give us all a new name at great expense – to make us sound less threatening or less unreliable or less untrustworthy and unemployable...perhaps we should be called...let me see...lovelyoids, or maybe coolotics or greataphrenics ? No, if we were that great, lovely or cool, why would we be afraid to go out sometimes, or nervous on meeting new people, or slightly oddly dressed, or not gainfully employed...etc. etc.
Now I've heard that there is a rumour that some 'dysfunction of perception' is to blame for all this, but that sounds like I would be agreeing with some authority that I cannot rely on my own senses – like my brain is deceiving me for some reason. Why should I jump on board with the psychiatric doctrine which doesn't investigate and / or explain things honestly ? I know what I am experiencing, but I am not going to give it any name at all, I am just going to carry on coping with it as well as I can, and that's all I can do for now...maybe later I will be able to explain it all without being thought of as delusional or crazy or mad...perhaps I will one day make it possible for all the nonsense talked about what we go through to stop, and we will be able to look it all straight in the eye and , if we must, defeat it !
Now, I know that we sometimes need somewhere to go when things get too difficult, and things do tend to get difficult when things are happening to us which no-one seems to be able to explain, but why should we have to agree with the theories of psychiatry in order to be declared fit again ? For goodness sake, religious people of all creeds, and even people of no creed whatsoever will believe there are more things in the world than science is able to satisfactorily explain...We all know of talk of angels and prophetic dreams, miracles and divine works from religion, surely, and we know of magic from mythology and popular fiction – music and the arts obviously includes a lot of stuff which psychiatry would deem delusional – are we the only ones who should have to believe that science is the only solution – why should we have to subscribe to the idea that we are hallucinating ? I am not hallucinating ! I know what I am experiencing ! Things are certainly not always very pleasant, but I can handle a bit of adversity now and then, I am pretty hardy now.
I wonder if the medics will one day say, 'yes, you are hearing voices', or 'yes, people do get persecuted', or 'yes, that artist was actually showing something miraculous in that painting', or 'yes, that pop song did mention silent voices', and 'silent voices was something we've been trying to deny for years and years...we've actually been making people feel that they are going mad by telling them that such things do not exist !' I wonder if one day the scientists will actual be thought mad, and not people like us ! We go in our thousands telling psychiatrists that things are happening which are worrying us, or puzzling us to the point of confusion and breakdown, and the system says we are all imagining it...it is a bit of a strange co-incidence that there are so many similarities to what we experience individually every day, every night year in, year out, but psychiatry says these things which have logic and meaning are just to be thought of as imaginings, and not really worth talking about...we are being told, en masse, that we should just go to sleep – all day if we like – and forget about it !
Some doctors, I believe, are saying that voice-hearers, for instance, should try to come to terms with them, and with a bit of courage we can get away from medicating ourselves, or even being medicated by someone else, and I believe this too...I believe we can learn, as we go on in life, and we can live normally...if only employers would think the same...if only there wasn't so much prejudice built into the psychiatric system, where you could report an incident on a ward, for instance, and you could be dismissed as paranoid, over-sensitive, or delusional – the prejudice is actually built into the diagnosis, it seems...it all means that at the moment we have to try to become resilient, patient, even-tempered and so on, in the face of often severe frustration and even abuse, but I think we can get through it all...and one day we may achieve true contentment and maintain a sense of wonder.
Good luck everyone , and best wishes !!