Quote 2: “if patients did not have actual brain disease, their only real difficulties were ‘problems in living.’ ” Dr. Thomas Szasz
This weekend Dr. Thomas Szasz died at the age of 92. leaving a legacy of his life’s work, taking his chosen field of psychiatry to task regarding their misuse of power and abuse of human beings in a system as corrupt and frivolous as any other power grabbing entity in history. Hand in hand with pharmaceutical manufacturers, psychiatrists carved out a niche; like the witch prickers of the Middle Ages, dealing inhumanely with those whose experience of reality is non-conforming with the mainstream paradigm, regarding social, economic and creative norms, and who are not protected by the brokers of power.
If you subscribe to the two italicized quotes above, you’ll find this post of interest. If you are sure that pharmaceuticals, and therapy are the solution to “fixing” people who are “broken” in some way……you are probably going to hate what I have to say, so you might as well leave now.
The only “pill” you need to swallow is the veracity of the first quote. “The goal is to assume more responsibility and therefore gain more liberty and more control over one’s own life.
Do you agree that assuming more responsibility and gaining more liberty and more control over one’s own life, is in fact, a definition of what is supposed to happen in the journey from birth to adulthood?
“Growing up” is about learning to become a balanced and highly functional individual through the process of assuming responsibility for ones existence in every way in order to become truly free, and in control of the direction you move in your life. However, there may be challenges along the way. It’s a learning based effect, and if you’ve been reading my Neuroplasticity posts, I begin to spell it out. It was timely that Dr. Szasz should decide to expire at just this moment, reminding me to write this.
When you’re born, figuratively you’re a sponge, soaking up non-verbal cues, auditory, visual, kinesthetic and gustatory in nature. You automatically mirror your caregivers, all in the name of survival. You are hard-wired to survive, and are at the mercy of the situation you’re born into. In Dr. Daniel Siegel’s book, The Neurobiology of We, he researches the role of “attachment” in early development. As a human baby, you develop “attachment” in response to the quantity and quality of the attention you receive from your initial caregivers. Dr. Siegel catalogs four distinct types of attachment.
In essence, as my teacher and mentor, Dr. Joseph Riggio has put forth on many occasions, “we are social before we are individual.” As infants and small children, we are highly impressionable, somehow intuiting that our survival is dependent on pleasing the caregiver. We know ourselves to be…..only in relation to those around us……..for probably the first three months of life and possibly even before we are born, as we receive data in utero, through several different channels. We begin to be aware and experience sound, and tactile sensation in the final trimester prior to birth, and neuro-chemical, hormonal shifts that directly effect development of the nervous system throughout the entire gestation period.
Having said that, to be sure one can say that we are not so unlike computers in that incomplete, or low quality input, creates low quality, ineffectual output. “Garbage in, garbage out.” Like computers, there is the ability to update both software and hardware…again, ultimately this was, IMO, nature’s intention when we evolved to be the magnificent adaptive specimen we are today.
We made a bargain. It’s about your brain.
In order for you to possess your large brain, you needed to be born helpless, and about twelve years premature, in order for your head to pass through the narrow birth canal.
Unlike other mammals, who are “ready to go” within days or weeks of birth, we humans require better than a decade, in many cases two decades to begin to get our act together. (This can be demonstrated by observing parent’s of college students, hovering about their children, and all but tucking them into bed, after driving them and their possessions to their chosen institutions of higher learning at the beginning of each semester.) That’s plenty of time for the influences of family, tribe, society, to invisibly install the data required to create a spectrum of behaviors, functional and non-functional, and an identity which when left to develop without updates, and integrating strategies for living on one’s own, the ideas in the second quote…….” real difficulties”…… “problems in living ” can arise.
It’s your nervous system doing what it does, in response to the expressions and repressions of the natural urges that arise because you are human…………. arguably the most adaptive predator on the planet, perhaps ever, being “socialized, without building in the requisite resiliency to live in an unpredictable world..
When we attempt to answer the question about what to do about ….“The issues or questions for the patient ………… to what extent is he willing to recognize his evasions of responsibility, often expressed as ‘symptoms.’”
Historically, when the failed tactics of the alienists of the turn of the century gave way to the failed tactics of the psychiatrists led by Sigmund Freud et al, they joined at the hip with the pharmaceutical industry. Their answer……. “mind-numbing drugs, designed to limit the brain’s ability to process information, dumbing down, pacifying, and ultimately institutionalizing” the “presenting individual” (of course a “humane” social system will tax it’s better functioning members to foot the bill for the poorly taught) if he is unable or unwilling to accept responsibility for the learning and updating within the “neuroplastic” system, necessary to create a future that is in line with the psyche of the individual, and in relation to the environment at large.
That’s a bit of a mouthful…I welcome commentary on any and all sides of the fence. Feel free to add your voice to this discussion, in the Comment box below.
In the next installment, I will put forth why it hasn’t successfully happened yet, and why only a handful of people are able to do it, although anyone on the planet could.
PS. The best way to take responsibility for yurself, is to learn how the greatest asset you have, your brain, can be harnessed to create limitless wealth, well-being, and satisfaction.
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