[Marxism] Comments from a psychiatric nurse [holy man sues anelk...?]

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Thu May 6 17:06:01 MDT 2004

Rachel Mendoza wrote:
> So the question remains, are people still schizophrenic if they are alone in
> a forest? Szasz has a quote (I'm paraphrasing): If you talk to God, you are
> religious, if God talks to you, then you have schiozphrenia.

A psychologist friend tells me Szasz was not as malicious or stupid as
those who quote him make seem to be. Be that as it may, Rachel clearly
has never known very many (if any)schizophrenics, nor even anyone who
from some other cause suffers from psychotic symptoms. A friend of mine
suffers from a number of illnesses, one of which confines her to a
wheelchair each time she falls victim to infected sinuses. She also
suffers from depression, and on occasion hears voices. The voices don't
tell her they are god; they tell her how worthless she is and how she
simply ought to give up and kill herself.

The point about almost _all_ mental illnesses is that they _hurt_, they
_hurt_ whether or not one has ever heard of them.

Back in the early '80s my neurologist put me on amitriptylene for
migraine headaches. I didn't like the side effects and stopped the
medicine. In my innocence I thought those side effects perhaps were due
to the med's anti-depressive nature (and I assumed I didn't suffer from
depression). I give this information as background to illustrate that my
depression (which I had already been suffering from) hardly came from
the psychiatrist telling me I was depressed. Actually, I remember
several times going back to my late teen years (that's over 50 years
ago) when I complained to myself that "life simply wasn't very much
fun." Anyhow, about two years after that I crashed badly for the third
time in those two years, & it begin to sink into my head that this
feeling of hopelessness was not merely the result of habitual
procrastination (in fact really serious procrastination is one of the
symptoms of clinical depression) but that I really had problems.

God very seldom talks to victims of schizophrenia; voices seldom are 
happy voices. I have known a number of sufferers from schizophrenia, and
they all suffered badly from the _passive_ symptoms of the illness:
hating oneself, lacking the energy to bathe, get up in the morning, talk
to people. Mental illness _isolates_ and it _hurts_. Rachel's blithe
reference to hearing god is stupid at best, vicious in its possible
effects if anyone believes it.

(One mental illness, and one only, ever makes the victim feel happy:
bipolar. And even for them, the periods of deep depression far outnumber
the periods of extreme elation -- and one of the most common effects of
that elation is to put oneself so deeply in debt that one never

There is yet another vicious consequence for the sort of silliness
Rachel (and others) are purveying in this thread -- the existence of
such arrant nonsense makes it difficult to discuss the _real_ evils of
the present system of medical treatment (of 'physical' as well as
'mental' illnesses), and also (as a couple posts in this thread have
illustrated) responding to Rachel et al can lead people into an
unnecessarily mechanical view of mental processes.

You cannot have a thought without making a physical change in the brain.
Multiply 17 by 13.033 and your brain will never be the same again!
Extreme duress (as in protracted combat, spousal abuse, sexual or
physical abuse of children), called PTSD, is one of the more common
causes of depression. A remarkable number of the people who have
attended meetings of the local depressive & manic depressive support
group over the years have suffered abuse in their childhood. But such
social relations make physical changes in the brain. For shizophrenia
and bipolar only medication (at this time) seems to help. For
depression, cognitive therapy often has excellent results.

Incidentally, it has been established that depression causes physical
changes -- in fact, shrinkage -- in the hippocampus, which is essential
for memory. Research also indicates that those who begin taking
anti-depressants from their first episode avoid this shrinkage. Probably
this effect explains why for many years now I have had trouble
retrieving proper names. I haven't seen any research on this, but I
suspect different parts of the brain process memory of proper names. A
few years ago I was writing a post for some maillist and wanted to refer
to Edmund Burke: I had to grab an anthology off the shelf & check the
table of contents to retrieve the name.)

Finally, it is probably true that most, perhaps all, of our presently
defined mental illnesses will undergo considerable change. That is, it
is very possible (probable) that depression, as presently understood,
actually includes a number of distinct illnesses. But that has been true
of the history of "physical" medicine too. One of the forms which
advance in medicine takes is more precise identification of illnesses,
separating conditions which at one time were thought to be the same. We
do not yet know the actual causes of any of the mental illnesses, which
is one of the reasons treatment remains empirical -- i.e., we know that
some medicines work but we don't know why! But again, that is not due to
any conspiracy of psychiatrists (or even of drug companies -- they are
guilty of enough horrors without making up illusory ones). It is due to
the fact that we don't know enought about the brain _or_ about how the
brain interacts with social relations. We're learning, but it is a
terribly difficult field.


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