Saturday, August 05, 2006

Growing Up Normal

In a message dated 8/5/06 1:57:06 AM Central Daylight Time, ALEX39@.COM writes:

Had I the authority of the wizard, I'd flash my magic wand and neutralize any and all portions of the brains and the gonads of all religious peoples.

In 1991, I went to a resident psychiatrist's office in Houston and told her I was becoming uncharacteristically religious and was writing about it at home: parables about street life to God. Streety was an adjective in a Barthelme short story, "The Dolt" that I read later, about Edgar who has failed The National Writers' Exam twice, and his sexy wife, Barbara, who was a hooker before they married. The resident psychiatrist didn't diagnose me, but later, when I didn't improve -- (I felt like all I was missing was the colonial doily on my head and could barely eat; I had a very serious expression and wouldn't smile for cameras and had gotten suddenly homely) -- I got two alternative dxs: one of temporal lobe epilepsy and one of manic depression. I did not choose drugging, but was ordered to go on med's anyway. A helpful fellow graduate student suggested that I read Barthelme's "The Sandman," but it was too late for that story, a letter to a psychiatrist from the third boyfriend of a woman patient who is really a pianist.

The anti-psychotics, according to Peter R. Breggin, the author of Toxic Psychiatry, do perform that service of neutralizing the hemispheres in the brain concerned with religion. If you could catch and drug the religious people, you'd have your wand. I have atheist friends, who are formerly Catholic, and who are blue collar workers; they shun all forms of religion and spirituality except art. What I was before the dx: a secular Protestant (not of the evangelical type), and I think this is pretty much still true today -- not an atheist but not much of a Christian, either.

The problem for "us" now is that groups do not know "what to do with" the dxd people who try to participate in regular activities. It's really worse than it was even 15 years ago for gays -- who lacked certain well-understood rights -- but 15 years ago, there was not this other group whose rights to housing, employment, education, health care, and community could be abridged -- people who typically haven't met, don't know each other, didn't used to be dxd, and are not political, who are subscribers not to religious thought but to conventional medicine. There are no blood tests for major mental illness. The treated bipolars I have met are not religious in the least or are merely religious and not very spiritual (except one born again woman, lucky enough to have a beau who is her ex-husband, the only one I met who stays off med's but goes to the doctor). The untreateds I met were occultists and drug addicts. Dx is really about aspects of trauma, and trauma is partly based in a lack of recognition that trauma has taken place or that it matters.

If the Gibson tirade is about hate and not about religion, as two people suggested, then it's worth remembering how in our version of our former religion hate was so completely taboo -- as little kids we were taught not to be vehement or to have enemies.

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