Tag Archives: psychology

Three Months of Freedom. I’m Back.

It’s been three months without thinking about Bipolar Disorder. Three months ago my psychiatrist started to think that I could potentially be Borderline Personality Disorder comorbid with Bipolar Disorder, it’s taken me two months to even acknowledge this. Borderline Personality Disorder can often co-occur with Bipolar disorder, having numerous overlapping symptoms. My psychiatrist sees the disorders linked in some people, existing on a mood spectrum where they interconnect. I’m against this analysis, I was mad, I’m still a bit mad. I slowly began to take myself off my medication. I cancelled all my other upcoming appointments, in my mind it was a big f*** off to mental health. I was good, I was on university holidays, no stress, nothing to trigger mood instabilities, and it was nice. University went back 4weeks ago, so I took myself back to the doctors, my psychologist, in contrast to my psychiatrist she doesn’t believe I’m BPD, but reaffirmed her belief that I need to monitor my moods and stay on top of my emotions. My psychologist forced the importance of Bipolar Disorder awareness back into the forefront of my mind. I’m still medication free, but the reality of mental illness is scary.

For anyone else who is or potentially has both Bipolar Disorder & Borderline Personality Disorder.

Development/Nature of the Illness:

Borderline personality disorder is a type of “personality disorder” which essentially means that it is a developmental condition – something that has evolved through the entire development of a person’s emotional/behavioural infrastructure.

Bipolar disorder is an illness that presents acutely or sub acutely (less than acute) sometime in a person’s life and is not, at least as we define it now, a condition that is part of a person’s core personality structure.

Course/Presentation of Symptoms:

Borderline symptoms are present as a person’s baseline– their difficulties with mood regulation and impulsivity, their ups and downs, are part of their life all the time. They are always up and down.

Bipolar symptoms present in episodes that must be a change from the person’s baseline – that is part of the diagnostic definition. Their episodes of depression or mania are a change from who they are when they are feeling well.

So the most annoying part of all of this: HOW CAN I BE BOTH! Uh… Having to exist on a spectrum with both, I don’t exhibit all symptoms of either.

Would love to hear from other people’s experiences.

Hope everyone has been well and happy. Love Alice.

*image by ahermin

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The Rise Of Psychiatry Has Augmented The Rise Of Madness Through Medicalization

When psychiatry is ‘curing’ the deviants of society and is invested in the restoration of normality.

It’s been a long while since I’ve last written, I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe, just maybe it’s because I’m not feeling too high or too low, the lows always lasting longer than the highs. Psychiatry has been playing on my mind lately, pills and potions; we’re overdosing, sick, sick, sick, I hear them say it. The pills fail to fill the void, has the void always been there or are the pills’ telling me that something needs to be fixed.

I was never meant to fix myself, the bruises on my thighs are like my fingertips, eerily matching the darkness that I feel. The darkness is like beautiful cherry blossoms that are always about to bloom, they are always so pretty, but they are always gone too soon. 

An attack on psychiatry: The original rise of asylums has allowed the confinement of madness to be ‘treated’, reclassifying a non-medical problem as a medical problem. Medicalization is the defining of non-medical problems in medical terms, usually as an illness or disorder, and usually with the implication that a medical intervention or treatment is appropriate (Zola, 1972). Medicalization leads to “normal” human behaviour and experience being “re-badged” as medical conditions. Rebadging “deviance” as a series of medical disorders, the engines driving medicalization have been identified as biotechnology (especially the pharmaceutical industry and genetics), consumers, and managed care. The hubris of psychiatry, believing originally that they could cure all psychological problems with psychoanalysis, psychiatry still failing to improve the average levels of happiness and well-being in the general population. Psychiatry is able to pump out psychotropic drugs, not save mankind, attempting to alleviate our ‘age of disenchantment’.

We are treated, analysed and regulated scientifically, living by a manual which fails to understand the sociological impacts and failings of society. Have we potentially been manufacturing our own madness? Postmodern psychiatry seems to have become a tailor-made diagnosis for an age of disenchantment. Are these psychiatrists potentially manufacturing madness? Is the medicalisation of madness reducing creativity, the creative aspects of people commonly misinterpreted as deviants? Centuries of creative people from all modalities have suffered from mental illnesses, resisting treatments which could potentially ease their conditions, fearing that it could cloud or alter their mind, drugging them into submission, proceeding to quash their inner creative impulses.

Edvard Munch: “I want to keep my sufferings. They are part of me and my art.”

Van Gogh: “Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence, whether much that is glorious, whether all that is profound, does not spring from disease of thought, from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.”

Psychologist Maureen Neihart: associates the shared characteristics amongst creative production and mental illness, which include mood disturbance, a tolerance for irrationality, greater openness to sensory stimuli, restlessness, speed of thinking, and obsessiveness of thought.

Marcel Proust: “everything great in the world is created by neurotics;”

Seneca quoted Aristotle as having said, “No great genius was without a mixture of insanity.”

Many psychologists believe that artists use their work to heal and soothe their minds. But if drugs heal artist’s minds for them, is their work still needed, or would it even be produced, would their work even be needed? I always found that my over-sensitive and stimulated mind would always find so much more beauty in the world, glimpsing the magical and maniacal way of being present. Sometimes the pills keep me from spiralling into the abyss of the rabbit hole, the terror, but also the creative language which comes from seeing both sides, the place that is sometimes so warm and comforting but at the same time cold and hard. We’re definitely a pill popping society, whether it be vitamins or hard core anti-psychotic sedatives (Haloperidol…I’m talking about you, you’re such an exhausting and all-consuming prick). I’m not writing off psychiatry as a professional form of medicine, I just believe that they are infested with conflicts of interest, most commonly the extensive influence of the pharmaceutical industries over modern medicine.

End note: I do not mean the use of the word “madness” to be taken in any offensive way; it is used in the same way that sociology and psychology have referenced it in academic journals.

“We Were Born Sick, You Heard Them Say It”.

Looking at the cultural sociology of mental illness.  

Mental illness can be interpreted as the most solitary of afflictions to the people who experience it, but it’s the most social to those who experience its effects. It becomes difficult to draw and define specific boundaries around mental illness and distinguish it from eccentricity or mere idiosyncrasy. It’s nearly impossible to clearly differentiate  an obvious line of difference between madness and malingering, mental disturbance and religious inspiration. Erving Goffman sought to dismiss mental illness as a purely socially constructed category, limited as a mere matter of labels. By exploring the quintessentially individual act of suicide an expansion from Gothman’s mere labels can be  expounded upon. Suicide is directly linked with mental illness, by examining this relationship the most florid manifestations of mental disturbance can be observed.

Mental illness has been interpreted as a product of sociological factors, an ‘anomie’ or the failure of sociological order to adequately regulate the beliefs and behaviors of its members. It has often been questioned whether people should take the Thomas Scheff approach, whereby the medical model of mental illness is dismissed and replaced with the societal reaction model, wherein patients were the victims of psychiatry. Advances within the cultural sociology of mental illness encompasses the progressive abandonment of the prior commitment to the segregative responses to serious mental illness and the run-down of the state hospital sector, the collapse of psychoanalysis – replaced by biological basis, the psychopharmacological revolution, the so-called neo-kraepelinian revolution, and the rise of the DSM to the position of overwhelming importance  – worldwide.

Sociology demotes psychiatry to a belief in vague predispositions to nervousness or madness, with no proven bodily cause, promoting their lack of clear-cut laws pertaining to their biological research, dealing with symptoms, not signs.  Diagnosing a person’s mental illness becomes based on the judgments generated through their communications, their treatments based off their diagnosis lacking widespread specificity. Psychiatry relying on psychoanalysis also called depth or psychodynamic psychology, proposes that the mind is divided in conscious and unconscious parts and that the dynamic relationship between these gives rise to psychopathology (the study of the manifestation of behaviors and experiences which may be indicative of mental illness or psychological impairment).

pill-person

Psychoanalysis becoming paradoxical because it’s concerned with the notion that we are all ill – psychopathology is ubiquitous, varying between individuals only in degree and type. These norms discerned within psychoanalysis mediated by the intrapsychic mechanisms. Norms within society imply that an ideal notion of mental illness exists, although it would be limited by its susceptibility to be meaningful to those only in a culture who subscribe to their theoretical premises, emphasizing its lack of unity and ineffectual distribution on a wider scale. Cultural notions of mental illness also initially linked  early biological psychiatry immediately with the mad, the bad and the dim. Sociology further attacks the definitions given to mental illness, arguing that the inter-dependent constituents are not defined or explained in relation to their classification of impairment, disturbance, disability, disorder etc.

We were born sick, you heard them say it”. To reiterate the heading and these fantastic lyrics – I think that they reinforce the schema that is associated with mental illness and to an extant the relationship/pattern between cultural/environmental influences on the etiology of mental illness.

Lately I’ve been living in the daydream just behind reality’s veiled curtain. The unsuspecting whore of mental illness, my ability to be both a victim and a rational opportunist. The victim to the triggers that my mind shudders against, the twisted opportunist that seeks the deep dark insights pertaining to the inner turmoil and joy. It’s a pretty twisted sick cycle, but its ok at the moment. It’s more of an ongoing ‘normal in training’ session. I keep wondering if my psychiatrist will ever give me a ‘gold star’ or tick of approval or whether we are all merely the embodiment of an epic psychoanalysis that perceives all as ill. Relying on my psychiatrist as my state-licensed drug dealer who specializes in ‘mood-altering’ drugs, hoping to create a balance which has to be practiced every day. Do we take the early sociological stance that no one is mentally ill or abide by the strict categorizations of mental illness that are created and regulated by so few. Life is to constantly challenge all that confounds you, rejecting the notions of those who remain unsubstantiated and to remain skeptical of those wishing you to blindly follow their ideologies.

Lemonade Is Hard.

When life gives too many lemons, say “fuck off lemons, I ordered pie.”

It’s becoming way too hard to make lemonade. Life keeps throwing lemons your way but you can’t be bothered to make stupid lemonade. When you simply lack the strength and motivation to go through the motions.

When lemonade is simply too hard to make, you know that depression has definitely set in. It usually means you aren’t leaving bed or even buying groceries.

STAY POSITIVE 🙂 buy a juicer.

 

My New Meditation Crutch, The Surprise Attack Of Psycho Girlfriend Syndrome.

Yesterday I was told that I need to treat myself like a car that can only take the best premium petrol, other cars can run smoothly on any fuel, yet if I don’t take particular care with what I put into my ‘car’ it won’t be running smoothly anymore. My psychologist used that metaphor, she is right, after all the festivities from Christmas, New Year, Australia Day and successive family birthdays, my body has been given foods that haven’t made me feel good. Alcohol and less time for stress relieving exercise have also played a role in my current emotional levels, the alcohol was in moderation and the exercising was down to 2days a week instead of my 4-5days. I guess it still mattered. My body and mind is tired, filled with lethargy and a bloated feeling of disgust. I forgot that my psychologist can actually have good insights sometimes. I didn’t realise that things that didn’t matter before like overindulgence and laziness actually had larger implications for my ability to maintain emotional stability.

Emotional stability is the hardest thing to maintain in my life at the moment, it’s a never ending battle; the slightest change in the breeze can change the emotional tide. I’ve been dating this guy for a few months now; I had actually forgotten what it meant to be in a relationship. It’s hard, it’s harder still to try and play it cool, failing to hide the constant anxiety over the things that he has reassured me about numerous times before. Avoiding the easy clingy nature that can develop, I don’t text often in general and I only make plans to see him a few times a week. I still feel like I’ve gone a tad ca-razy though, insecurities and tears coming all too easily. I’ve been meditating like crazy, trying to relax, searching for a mental balance. The meditating keeps me relaxed for a few hours, but after those hours its back to the same battle to reach a rational mentality – when he hasn’t spoken to you in six hours, realising that this doesn’t mean that he isn’t interested in you anymore – he works 15hr days – it’s hard to regain a rational front seat again, but it does eventually kick in.

My life has been filled with an incredible series of emotional and mental extremes, with beautiful thunderstorms and stunning sunrises. Meditating is all well and good, but it can’t be the crutch to get you through each day. I need to change the way I see things not just relieve my anxiety. Controlling my emotional triggers should be my main goal; everything else would eventually fall in line after that. I’m still constantly surprised that being in a relationship can change you into a sensitive over-reactive emotional mess. Cheers Bipolar, thanks for making life more difficult, again.

On a plus side – I baked brownies today, exercised and meditated twice today (argh what a lame crutch). Happy Monday all.

psycHOTic is a thing right?….

Best meditation apps I use:
– Stop, Breathe & Think (best one)
– Guided Meditation
– Citadel

I also like relaxing to Buddha radio on my phone.

Playing Devil’s Advocate With Key Religious Figures And Mental Illness Correlations.

Disclaimer: Not my own thoughts, the research is from the Journal of Neuropsychiatry – The Role of Psychotic Disorders in Religious History Considered. This blog entry is me playing devil’s advocate to provoke debate; I’m not in any way trying to undermine a person’s religious beliefs, simply trying to encourage discourse underlying subconscious preconceptions of mental illness within religion.  


Thoughts to be considered before reading:
-Why would it be so bad if the inspirational figures in religious history experienced mental illness?
-Why do we subconsciously reject the thought that God wouldn’t work through people who have mental illnesses?
-Does being mentally ill make you exempt from God’s work and unable to meaningfully participate in worship when one in four people have been statistically proven to suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives.

The awkward moment when it becomes plausible that Jesus suffered from Schizophrenia (Just to clarify: this wouldn’t in anyway take away from his religious position, history and achievements).

A study was conducted by psychiatrists when they were presented with a concept by a paranoid schizophrenic patient, who claimed that he could read minds and was selected by God to provide guidance for mankind. The patient refused to take the medication because they stopped the voices, presenting his doctors with the question: “How do you know the voices aren’t real…How do you know I am not The Messiah…God and angels talked to people in the Bible”. The patient raised interesting questions, how does one distinguish between people with mental health disorders and those of religious figures in history?

One of the examples the doctors used in their journal article was Jesus, by examining passages within the bible they located specific areas that presented symptoms of mental illness:
Paranoid-type (PS subtype) thought content: Matthew 10:34–39, 16: 21–23, 24:4–27; Mark 13:5–6; Luke 10:19; John 3:18; John 14:6–11

Auditory and visual hallucinations: Matthew 3:16–17, 4:3–11; Luke 10:18; John 6:46, 8:26, 8:38–40, 12:28–29

Referential thought processes: Mark 4:38–40 (Figure 3); Luke 18:31

Within the New Testament Jesus exhibits behaviours that closely resemble the DSM-IV-TR– Auditory hallucinations, Visual Hallucinations, delusions, referential thinking, paranoid-type, (PS subtype) thought content, and hyper-religiosity. Through the text Jesus also displays signs of disorganization, negative psychiatric symptoms, cognitive impairment, or debilitating mood disorder symptoms. The article poses the question about whether starvation and metabolic derangements caused some of the behaviours as Jesus experienced hallucinatory-like visions whilst he fasted for 40days in the desert (Luke 4:1–13).

Jesus’ experiences appear to have occurred over the course of at least the year before his death. There is a notable lack of physical maladies which suggest psychiatric aetiologies as more plausible. There is a 5%–10% lifetime risk of suicide in persons with schizophrenia.  Suicide is defined as a self-inflicted death that has intention to end one’s life. The New Testament recounts that Jesus was aware that people intended to kill him.  Jesus took the steps to ensure that his followers were aware that his death was necessary for his return (Matthew 16:21–28; Mark 8:31; John 16:16–28). These passages appear to present Jesus to deliberately place himself in a situation wherein he anticipated his execution. Schizophrenia is often associated with increased risk of suicide.

There is a term called ‘suicide-by-proxy’, any incident whereby a suicidal individual causes their own death to be carried out by another person.  Jesus’ behaviour before his death has parallels with someone who premeditates a form of suicide-by-proxy. In the passage Mark 3: 21: Jesus was on occasion viewed as mad or “beside himself.” People from Jesus’ hometown and the religious authorities of the day also did not accept his message. Subsets of individuals who have psychotic symptoms appear to be able to form intense social bonds and communities, despite having distorted views of reality. The study analysed the religious figures from a behavioural, neurologic, and neuropsychiatric perspective. The research indicates that the experiences of the individuals coincide with psychotic symptoms, suggesting that manifestations of their experiences had a primary or mood disorder-associated psychotic disorder basis.

The_God_Delusion_by_BlackMagic26

A main goal of this research was to evaluate the influence of individuals with mental illness and their effects on shaping the Western civilization, hoping that the findings will help to increase compassion and understanding in relation to mental illness. Within the research it should be noted that they did use explicit passages from the bible, but each passage should be examined in its own context. It is generally acknowledged that biblical scholars are not unanimous about the literality of the scriptures nor are psychiatrists completely unanimous about the DSM (basically the bible of psychiatry). The research conducted a form of psychological profiling by people that aren’t saddled with the preconceived notions and biases that encumber those that have studied their field in depth, allowing a fresh take on ideas that have been overanalysed by people in the same area of study.

Only by joining multiple areas of study can any true concept of history be interpreted, attempting to remove the elitist theories that dominate popular thought. It needs to also be acknowledged that historians aren’t the sole area of study that can interpret history, other fields of study have valuable insights that historians can lack.  The article didn’t stipulate and designate that religion was the cause for psychological symptoms, neither did it go into the scientific explanation, but it still needs to be acknowledged that religion does play a dominating role for some psychoses, especially with delusions. Does the motivating factor of religion in mental illness make it a definable feature??

I’m increasingly intrigued by the article when it encourages speculation on our inability to disprove that a person who is schizophrenic is a mouthpiece of God or is suffering from psychoses. The opposing opinions from both sides need to be taken into consideration; biases from long term studies ultimately detract from the viability of the research. The study showed the correlations that religious historical figures had with the current DSM, they acknowledged their limitations, like either psychological or biblical should do, my main question is this: why would it be wrong if they had suffered from a mental illness, it doesn’t detract from their accomplishments or their religious foundations, each person’s beliefs will always be grounded, who’s to say that God didn’t use psychoses to achieve his end.

I didn’t want to post this all week, didn’t want to ruffle anyone’s feathers. I came across this article, it really interested me, I understand its controversial, I am in no way promoting and detracting from either side and hope my post won’t be interpreted as such. Thank you.

Author and Article Information

From the Dept. of Neurology, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA (EDM, BHP); Dept. of Psychiatry, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA (MGC); Dept. of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA (EDM, BHP).

Murray, E., Cunningham, M. and Price, B. (2012). The Role of Psychotic Disorders in Religious History Considered. JNP, 24(4), pp.410-426.

Humanity’s Icarus Complex.

Firstly a brief tale of Icarus:

Icarus needed to escape from Crete, constructing wings to fly to safety, the wings were made of feathers and wax. He was warned not to fly to low lest his wings get wet and not too high lest the sun melts the wax. The young Icarus was thrilled by the flight, but did not heed the warnings; he flew too close to the sun, at which point the wax melted and he fell into the sea.

Psychology has termed a concept the ‘Icarus complex’ which centers on a person’s insatiable ambition and the need to achieve excess in all things. To the Greeks the Icarus complex was known as hubris, the excessive pride and ambition usually leading to the downfall of the hero in a classical tragedy. The Icarus complex psychologically becomes a pattern that humanity exhibits through burning ambition and exhibitionism, often understood through the subjective lens that depicts a precipitous fall whilst craving immortality. The psychological characterisation of Icarus before his fall becomes an inevitable connection between the ascensionist and the narcissist cynosure.  Finally when Icarus has attained an excessive height he falls as his waxen wings have been melted by the sun. Stanley Kubrick taking the Apollonian stance towards Icarus’ flight: “I’ve never been certain whether the moral of the Icarus story should only be, as is generally accepted, ‘don’t try to fly too high,’ or whether it might also be thought of as ‘forget the wax and feathers, and do a better job on the wings”. Contrasting to Kubrick is Oscar Wilde and his stance that one should:

“Never regret thy fall,
O Icarus of the fearless flight
For the greatest tragedy of them all 
Is never to feel the burning light.”

The fall of Icarus becomes a cautionary tale to understand the value of moderation. Henry Murray first coined the term ‘Icarus complex’, later the complex has been associated to mania, whereby a person exhibits grandiosity or narcissistic inclinations and a fascination for heights. The tale of Icarus is to take the middle way, cautioning against the heedless pursuit of instant gratification. The concept of the Icarus complex reveals that when the gap between the idealised goal and reality is great, there is a greater chance that the endeavour will end in failure. Icarus represents the sin of hubris, which can be interpreted through biblical texts which state that pride goes before a fall.

Imagery of Icarus shows him smiling as he descends as his father watches in horror, the painting illustrates that life goes on, the plight of Icarus is irrelevant, the farmer will continue to plough and the ship captain will continue on his voyage without a care as Icarus drowns in the water. The image of Icarus conveys the joy in flight, the value in his triumph, no matter how short-lived. The complex associated with Icarus conveys the pendulous emotional polarities, mania is exhibited by flying too high, whereby he got “burned”, followed closely by his inevitable emotional crash that followed his flight of mania into depression – drowning in the ‘sea’ of depression.

It can be argued that mania can therefore be interpreted as a form of ambition, an excessive ambition that ends in disaster. Another interpretation of Icarus regards his pursuit of enlightenment by transcending the Earth, this suggests grandiosity. The story of Icarus also embodies every humans potential to have differing levels of manic-depressive states, our moods fluctuating. The psychoanalysis of Icarus suggests that he was in a manic state, dominated by hyperactivity and euphoria. Icarus’ state of mind remaining unchecked, progressively losing his sense of reality and oblivious to the potentially fatal risk associated with his flight. His grandiose belief and overestimation of his personal capabilities allow a never ending energy and illusion to drive him onwards.

“It is not a matter of indifference whether one calls something a ‘mania’ or a ‘god’. To serve a mania is detestable and undignified, but to serve a god is full of meaning.” C. G. Jung.

Fall_of_Icarus_-_Brueghel_-Museum_van_Buuren Joos_de_Momper_Icarus