Article for psychiatric survivors newsletter
OREGONIANS ADVOCATING FOR EMPOWERMENT
April 1, 1988
..Too many psychiatrists are advocating for society, for the family, for the popular western world view. I was lucky. My therapist was advocating for ME. Over and over he said, “You are the only one who can know how you feel.”
What does that mean? It means I can’t ask other people, whether it’s psychiatrist, mother or husband, if what I feel is REAL, OR if it’s OK to feel the way I do. It means there is NO WAY for them to know when they say, “You don’t really feel that,” “It’s just your imagination,” “There’s something wrong with you if you feel that because there’s no reason (I can’t see a reason) for it.” It means I can’t simply move from the security of my family telling me what I feel to the security of the experts telling me.
Empowerment means I make my own decisions. In 1976 I made the extremely critical decision that there might be a valid reason for my feelings, feelings that made no sense to others and sometimes made no sense to me. My therapist was probably the only person in the world who didn’t believe my feelings were just “crazy.” What followed was that I had to feel the lifetime of repressed pain; I had to experience the loss of the security of the world as I had known it while not knowing if I would ever find any security again.
Like being born and dying, NO ONE ELSE COULD DO IT FOR ME. Like the child who saw the emperor wore no clothes in spite of what everyone said, I had to learn to trust MY senses, to accept and assimilate ALL the experiences I had in spite of what everyone else said.
Science has a long history of ignoring certain data and phenomena if it doesn’t fit into the popular theory being used to explain things. Then one day an idea comes along whose time has come. It’s more comprehensive; it helps explain all those leftovers that wouldn’t fit into the popular idea. The most highly educated people in the world in 1500 knew it to be fact that the sun revolved around the earth and that the earth was flat. The most highly educated doctors in the world in 1865 knew it to be preposterous that they were spreading infection among their patients simply by not washing their hands.
Only by totally ignoring certain aspects of my experience can psychiatrists make the last 16 years of my life fit into what they believe are the facts. Putting on those blinders that allow them to focus on chemical imbalance and genetics, they can make the rest of my experience fit into THEIR belief system, THEIR world view, and that’s not advocating for ME.
Through the years I became “inner” directed instead of my direction coming from what other people said. I no longer have to try to ignore or repress feelings or try to CONTROL my inner experiences and feelings; I became real enough to allow it. My inner world just kept rearing it’s stubborn head reminding me of its existence till I started paying attention. I could not continue to cling to the world I had known and be free of Stelazine.
Another person had to first believe in me, allow the INNER ME existence before I could start to believe in myself, be empowered.