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The Basis of My Mental Health/Mental Illness Advocacy

Posted on September 29, 2015 in Advocacy Stigma

This article stakes out my position and makes a stand for what I believe.

Sane Privilege

Posted on June 1, 2015 in Authoritarianism Class Psycho-bunk Stigma

Many of us do not trust the neurotypical. It should not surprise you.

Is “High Functioning” Stigmatizing?

Posted on May 8, 2015 in Civic Responsibility Stigma

“High functioning” has more to do with balancing bureaucratic costs than the welfare of the patient.

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What is Stigma?

Posted on May 6, 2015 in Accountability Bigots Stigma

The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and, in moving, he always returns whence he came.

Umberto Eco

square874Let me start out by stating that I do not believe in “self-stigma”: I believe in guilt, shame, and despair but labeling these as “self-stigma” cheapens the meaning of stigma. There may or may not be a motive behind the invention of this term, but the result is that it implies that the people who are the principal victims of stigma are in a conspiracy — or confederacy if you prefer — against themselves.

To further explain what stigma is and isn’t, let me use a parallel that was laid out to me by a friend who was explaining certain terms used to describe race relations. White people often accuse African Americans of being racist, too. African Americans dispute this. My friend — an African American woman — acknowledged that African Americans often hold deeply seated racial and ethnic prejudices. But this isn’t racism because racism requires another element: power. White Americans are in a position to make their racial prejudices inflict suffering on the lives of African Americans. Witness, for example, the unwritten DWB (“Driving While Black”) policies of certain police departments including “America’s safest city” (for white people) Irvine, California. The policy is enforced when a black person drives through the city of Irvine. Because of their skin color, they are assumed to be up to no good and pulled over for some minor infraction. The result is that they are made to feel unwelcome in this college town. That is a ~comparatively~ “mild” example, but American history is rife with other exemplars up to the present day.

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An Apology to Those Living with OCD

Posted on April 30, 2015 in OCD Stigma

It is hard to have a southern overseer;it is worse to have a northern one; but worst of all when you are the slave-driver of yourself. — Henry David Thoreau

square872I need to stop talking about my “OCD”. When do I label myself thus? When I do make sure my desk is orderly every night or make checklists or avoid stepping on cracks or squeeze every last drop of toothpaste from the tube or proofread my blogs before I publish them or correct them after I have published them. It’s a cheap use of the term and it belittles those who actually suffer from the illness.

Many people do it. They have no clue about how it screws up the life of its sufferers. OCD isn’t just a few quirks but it takes over entire lives. I know people who have to touch every door knob in their house before they go to bed or repeat certain phrases over and over again or have their food arranged in a certain way on the plate — they can’t eat it otherwise. Some clean until the floors in the house are badly scratched and carpets are frayed from excessive vacuuming Others hoard. My dentist hygienist tells me that she is always telling her clients with OCD not to brush too much; their excessive efforts wear out the enamel on their teeth and tear up their gums. Its sufferers don’t perform their rituals for pleasure but to avoid punishment by the disorder such as extreme anxiety and sometimes panic. One sufferer described it to me as having a lattice of borders in his mind that he dare not trespass upon.

So I apologize for trivializing the term. It is bad enough to have the disease. No one should have to bear with a stigma that makes light of a serious problem in their lives.

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