Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The mutants are revolting: The treatment of the mentally ill in today's society - Part III

A few weeks ago, a woman I know who suffers from borderline personality disorder and has a young daughter showed me a really offensive article on Psychology Today, one of many propaganda outlets disguised as science magazines, with the title "Prognosis is Gloomy for Children with Personality-Disordered Parents, Studies Suggest" (see Google), quoting a whole bunch of studies highlighting how people suffering from borderline personality disorder are worse parents, children are abused or neglected more often, become criminal or get into drugs more often, and often have a less rewarding and fulfilling life as they grow up.

This is a perfect example of why psychiatric and psychological studies cannot be trusted. From my perspective, as someone who is capable of critical thinking, and as someone who has lived with mental illness all his life and knows it does not make you a better or worse person or defines your character in any way, I can easily see through this pile of nonsense. For me, the common theme was that in every study they quoted, you could easily exhange the term "borderline personality disorder" with "black skin", and the result would have been the same.

Yes, let us go with that comparison. In North America, where the studies were based, but also in Europe, children of parents with black skin have a higher chance to be abused, to be neglected, to become criminals as they become older, to get into drugs when they get older, and to live a less rewarding and fulfilling life than the white majority. This is statistically documented. Now, if I was a writer at Psychology Today, this would lead me to the conclusion that black people, in principle, are worse parents. Can you imagine the outrage that would cause? It's obviously a load of crap, racist to the bone and based on prejudice and ignorance. But if black people are not worse parents in principle, then why do their children have a higher chance of encountering abuse, neglect, crime, drugs, unhappiness and so forth? It's called "institutional racism." Their parents are less likely to find a job. If they find one, they are less likely to find one that pays anything. And they are less likely to find a job that doesn't have them work at nights or on weekends and leave the kids with whomever. Black families are less likely to live in an area that is both safe, free of crime, and beneficial to a child's development. Black families are marginalised in all walks of life by the majority's attitude of them being lesser people. Black children face verbal and physical abuse from light-skinned people - adults and children - in their neighbourhoods, and in kindergarten and school. Black parents are more likely to be harassed by police, as are the children when they are old enough to be harassed. Suffocating poverty, dismal surroundings and constant psychological abuse wherever they go eventually leads to a youth and an adulthood of crime and drugs in many cases, which then is passed on to another generation.

Is this because of their black skin? Does being black automatically make you a worse parent? Psychology Today would say so.

The article and studies really paints a picture of the institutional discrimination we as mentally ill people face in society today, and how propaganda is being force-fed into the minds of the masses from the highest places with impunity. Let me make one thing very clear, just so we have the facts established: Mental illness, by itself, does not define your parenting skills any more than being in a wheelchair or having diabetes would. They are illnesses that any good parent can work his or her way around, some things you have to do differently and improvise just like a person in a wheelchair or a person with diabetes would have to, but doing things differently does not make you a worse parent just as much as being healthy does not make you a better parent. Your state of health does not define your parenting skills. However, just like black people, mentally ill people face institutional discrimination and marginalisation every day of their lives in every area. Finding a job, finding a good job, harassment and abuse, finding a decent place to live, being able to live a productive and rewarding life, all these are areas where both groups, black people and mentally ill people, face institutional roadblocks. However, for black people this is being recognised as true. Nobody does anything about it to improve it, but at least it is being recognised. For mentally ill people, to society as a whole, it is still us who are to blame for the shit we face. If an employer won't hire you because you're black, most people won't say your black skin is to blame for not getting the job but that the employer's prejudice is to blame. If an employer won't hire you because you're bipolar, it is always your illness that is to blame and the employer is seen as in the right.

And here we get to the part about why the article I have been referring to throughout this post infuriates me so much. That article, and all the studies it quotes, was not written by the Ku Klux Klan. It was written by people society considers respectable and knowledgeable on the subject. It was written by so-called professionals, doctors, professors, people who spent about a decade studying this subject. Men and women of science. Not only will people generally believe that whatever these people say is true, but they also do not generally have the ability to question it because the field is too difficult for many regular people to understand, so it is readily swallowed. The outlook for mentally ill people certainly looks grim if institutional discrimination is condoned and supported by one of the most respected groups in our society, and any critical questioning of their theories by layman rights activists is quickly drowned out with complicated technical jargon no one but them knows how to respond to.

We really can not do much more about this other than to educate ourselves and pass on our knowledge to those around us, and to show people that our illnesses do not make us a better or worse person. We are people like you, and we do not want to be treated any differently because of our illnesses.

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