(Continuation) Most of the patients on inpatient psychiatry behaved toward me like normal, civilized human beings. A fellow named Mark became something of my protector. Several young girls acted toward me as grandchildren. Because I am (a) a nice person, (b) in a wheelchair, and (c) appreciative of all consideration, most of the other patients tried to care for me.
“Can I get you some ice cream from the kitchen?”
“Don’t try to pick that paper up from the floor—I’ll get it for you.”
“Here, let me carry that cup for you.”
“Do you need anything?”
“Is there anything I can do for you?”
Because I am a psychiatric patient, most of the staff treated me meanly. My psychologist told me that when he worked as an aide in a psychiatric hospital, he was taught, “You’ve got to get tough with them” and little has changed. Psychiatric illness—psychoneuroimmunoendocrinological illness—is treated as bad behavior: beat them hard enough and they’ll stop hallucinating.
I would guess that you could go just about anywhere in society, put one person in a wheelchair and have her ask, “Could you bring me a tray?” and the answer from every person would be, “Oh, sure.”
But not in psychiatric “care”—not in psychiatric imprisonment.
It is just and right and necessary for us to call them cunts and pricks. The rule of law says that if the first party to a contract violates the terms of the contract, then the first party cannot hold the second party to the contract. Inpatient psychiatric staff, on a daily—if not hourly—basis, violate the social contract that exists between human beings. Therefore, the party of the second part is not bound to extend polite behavior to the party of the first part.
In fact, it is incumbent upon all psychiatric captives to curse their captors—to confront the staff with the fact that they are not behaving agreeably, they are not kind, they are not caring—to break their illusion that they are good people doing a nice thing. They are not. They are prison guards with a “get tough” policy. It would be a good thing for all “psychiatric patients” to act so badly that staff members can’t sleep at night and quit their jobs.
Thirty years ago, I was an aide on a locked psychiatric unit. I had the keys. I believed that I was wise, healthy and good, and it was my job to reeducate, retrain and remodel the sick-o’s who passed through my care. In fact, like so many other inpatient psychiatric workers, I was ignorant, narrow-minded and judgmental. I shouldn’t have been given the keys to a dog kennel, let alone a human locked unit.
I believed that people who called for things like the bombing of psychiatric hospitals were unruly, unrealistic, unreasonable members of society who should be imprisoned and taught by people like me. Psychiatric “survivors” who said they were being drugged to keep them from talking were crazy. They simply didn’t understand what was good for them. Obviously, they were in pain; their pain was caused by their illness, not by my mistreatment of them. I was, after all, doing exactly what the doctors told me to do.
As a psychiatric inpatient, now I could get away with calling staff members cunts and pricks because on my chart there was a big label that said, “ALLERGIC TO ALL MEDICATIONS.” Had that notice not been there, the staff would have medicated me into silence. Because, obviously, I was in pain and my pain was caused by my illness, not by their mistreatment of me, wasn’t it?
Violent radicals like me are made, not born. When I was a high school graduate, society gave me the keys to imprison people. Now I am old, and a graduate of inpatient psychiatric hospitalization. Experience has taught me how incredibly, unbearably, wrong the psychiatric system is. It should be destroyed by whatever means possible.