Fucked Off Not Fucked Up
[ed. - medical key: Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)]
When I was living in Germany, a friend asked me why there was a war against kids in England. This question surprised me, not because I didn’t agree with him, but because I didn’t know that people abroad had noticed. He had got this impression from various bits of news: limits put on how many kids are allowed to gather together on the streets, sonic weapons being used in public areas against the youth in the form of high frequencies that are uncomfortable to the ears of those under a certain age, laws about what young people can and can’t wear (such as hoodies), general and unrelenting harassment by the cops particularly of black (male) youth but not only, the massive number of kids locked up every year and routinely subjected to beatings, humiliation and other abuse by screws and private security staff, stuff like that.
What he wasn’t aware of was how many of the kids as well as adults in England are told they are sick – that their personalities are ‘wrong’ (ADD, ADHD, ODD, etc) – and as a result are being fed mountains of psychiatric drugs that make the corporations rich, and are forced to undergo all manner of compliancy-inducing behavioural therapies because they won’t conform to the ghastly social norm, refuse to comply with authority and are ‘confrontational’.
To break a horse you need to get them young (vulnerable), fence them in and tie them up until they accept their condition (give up), make their activities and experiences routine and repetitive (brainwashing/hypnosis). You need to use a mixture of force and love (confusion), and you need to make them live in an environment in which they cannot meet their own needs without dependency on those in charge of them (the family, industrial economics and civilisation). To break a horse is the same as breaking a human. It takes a bit longer to break a human, and fortunately, it doesn’t always work, despite what they throw at us – which is quite a lot. For the wild human being, it is the psychiatrist and his/her institutions that are to be feared and fought the most. Sadly, they have been so good at their job for so many centuries, that even people who are critical of capitalism, the State and the social regime, still describe the more uncontrollable, autonomous personalities amongst us as ‘crazy’ and those that are labelled crazy are not always, in the end, strong enough or supported enough to find joy in their own rebellion and individuality. The tension between the propaganda of the social construct of ‘normal’ and the inner world of the individual can become intolerable. As this tension becomes more and more unbearable for the individual, they often embrace the latest psychiatric ‘diagnosis’ to escape from the pain of not-fitting-in or to avoid criminal prosecution. Personality disorders have become as commonplace and as accepted as a diagnosis of depression, bi-polar or schizophrenia, but how can a personality be ‘wrong’! Doesn’t anyone see how ridiculous this is? As ridiculous as the pursuit of happiness in a world built on misery. And by the way, who checks out the personalities of the shrinks themselves?
Of course, the alternative to accepting the diagnosis of a personality disorder is to fight back, and that means destroying the whole system in which this labelling of the human individual is possible.
If you have ever been diagnosed with a mental health problem and particularly with a ‘personality disorder’, then let’s get one thing straight. There is essentially nothing wrong with you. That is not to say that you do not have some things to deal with, but whatever your diagnosis by the shrinks and however much you struggle with your mind or your emotions, the baseline is, you are fine and it is society that’s got to change.
Psychiatry and with it, the asylum, came about at roughly the same time as the other prisons: the gaol, the school, the factory, the workhouse and the hospital i.e. alongside industrialisation at the end of the eighteenth century. Industrial as opposed to cottage industry required a robotic workforce defined by repetitive work inspired and desired not by the individual self, but by the bosses and the society outside the self. The Land Enclosures Act had enabled the powerful to steal large swathes of common land in the 1700s and so ordinary people could no longer fulfil their own basic needs through small scale farming, hunting and foraging and were forced into work for the factory owners in return for ‘a wage’. Time became something not for the individual to play with as they, their families and small communities desired, but became a clock dividing ‘your time’ from ‘their time’. People became impersonal cogs in a vast machine. The free man, woman and child disappeared. But the dream and the memory of freedom still kicks within and some of us are more awake to this heartbeat than others: we are the ones they try to shut up by forcing pills into our mouths and making us doubt ourselves by redefining certain temperaments, characters and personalities as biological illness to be cured with drugs, ECT and behavioural therapies whose sole purpose is to destroy our sense of personal authority and to increase our obedience to power. They do the same thing in all totalitarian states.
The schools take the children and break their spirits, teaching them force, obedience and the futility of resistance (it is never futile to resist – the alternative is death by a thousand cuts); the factory (the office, wage labour) takes the adults and wastes their lives and talents slaving for bosses at subsistence wages for the profit of the elite; the workhouse (in the old days) and welfare now takes those that slip through the economic net and crushes them with social disgust, boredom and bare survival; the asylum and the prisons take those who actively rebel against the insanity of the system, or who are actually driven ‘mad’ by the craziness of what they are being forced to live; and the hospitals take the casualties of industry, war and urban life and arose because something had to replace all the wise women and herbal folk medicine (the ‘witches’) that were destroyed to make way for city life, industrialisation, professional medicine and pharmaceutical companies, and a culture of specialisation where everybody only knows a little and so everybody is dependent on the machine.
The schools are there to make sure everyone learns the same things, doesn’t learn the things that the authorities don’t want them to learn and to make sure children acquire the art of obedience to an alien authority – the teacher – an obedience historically enforced through physical punishment and now enforced by a terrifying array of surveillance infrastructure, ‘counsellors’ and social workers designed to confuse the young rebel by making him [sic] think he is ill or criminal and can be ‘cured’.
Not everybody likes to be a cog in somebody else’s machine, and not everyone is cut out to take orders from some dickwad who thinks they’re more important than we are. So along with the factory, the powers-that-be had to build places to keep the people that didn’t or wouldn’t fit in. In the old days (1750s), they tried hanging everyone who showed any spirit, then they tried exiling them to places like Australia where they became slaves for the colonial masters – and then they invented ‘psychiatry’. The latter is that most insidious of prisons – the one they build in our own heads – which divides the ever-unique human mind and temperament into ‘sane’ and ‘insane’, ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’, ‘compliant’ and ‘non-compliant’, ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’, shackling each brilliant individual to a fictitious whipping post known as the ‘social norm’. The victims of this invention are forced to take mind-altering medication, undergo inhumane treatment such as ECT (brain damage) and to live with the threat of indefinite incarceration if they don’t convince the authorities and society that they can achieve the required mediocrity and compliance demanded of them.
In recent years, the growth of personality disorders is frightening (and you can be sure that some people are making a lot of money out of it). A friend was once told she had a personality disorder because she had chosen not to marry or have children. And wasn’t ‘Parental Alienation Syndrome’ just the experience of being a teenager a while ago? The DSM is the ‘official’ book of psychiatric disorders and the latest one – due to come out of the States in 2013 – is intent on turning a vast array of personality traits and temperaments into ‘illnesses’. As capitalism flounders and uprisings and rebellions become more and more frequent and violent, a panicking elite has handed psychiatry the whip. And it is the young people who are feeling this whip the hardest. The children are the future, so best wipe them out early.
Thank fuck, the psychological community is not all in favour of this latest diagnostic attack, and is opposing its publication, but nonetheless, if you type Oppositional Defiant Disorder into Google, it looks like a lot of organisations and doctors in the UK have been applying this crap for years, fucking up thousands of kids’ minds and lives already.
Psychiatric diagnoses really all amount to the same thing: are you willing to spend your life performing an economic service to society for little reward i.e. to work, or not? Are you willing to maintain the social status quo i.e. not ask too many questions, or not? Are you willing to ignore all the bullshit and injustice and be happy with the entertainments on offer i.e. obsess about a football team, drink yourself into a stupor every weekend, and buy all the latest gadgets as if your life depended on it (which it might well do at this point) i.e. be a good consumer, or not? Are you willing to look the other way and to accept your ‘lot’ (which other people have decided) without upsetting ‘society’ and the existing order of things i.e. be a ‘good citizen’, or not? Are you willing to put your individuality to one side and fit in with your neighbours/the Daily Mail/work colleagues no matter what? If your answer is ‘not’ to most of these questions, then you probably have a mental health problem… except that you don’t.
Hatred of authority and rebellion against the existing order is now an illness (don’t buy this crap – you are an outlaw, a rebel, a freedom-fighter, a criminal, with a wonderful historical lineage!). Grief at the death of a loved one if it lasts longer than six weeks is now an illness (or does it just interfere with your economic productivity while you get over your loved ones death?). Even shyness is an illness! Get back to work, even if there is no work, even if it is crap, boring, mind-numbing work, even if it is low paid or unpaid. If you just can’t do it, take some pills. And whatever you do, don’t stand out and don’t let your light shine too bright…
Who the fuck are these people who decide people who don’t like them and won’t listen to them have personality disorders? Police, politicians, psychiatrists (the last one being a combination of the first two), parents and teachers who decide that you are ill or criminal or anti-social because you won’t take orders from people you don’t respect, or don’t even know? The really dark thing about class, professionalization (in the old days, everyone knew a bit of everything) and mass urbanisation (in smaller communities, you know everyone really well and so abstract diagnoses are of no interest), is that someone whom you have never had a conversation with about anything of significance to you and whom you may not like or agree with and who, moreover, might have a whole load of personal issues of their own going on when the surgery is shut, can label you as sick, convince your friends, teachers, parents that you are sick, fill you full of pills and nonsense and actually threaten your sanity (confidence in and knowledge of who you are, personal connection to the world and your views on it, your autonomy) and your physical and cognitive liberty (forced medication and sectioning in a psychiatric unit).
You might be difficult, you might be challenging, you might even be a total wanker, but that is for you to work out and those close to you, not for some stranger to meet you a couple of times, tick some boxes and lock you into a psychiatric prison of their own devising. Perhaps you are just one of those people who are never going to fit in, who don’t want to fit in because you’re actually just better than the herd. Undoubtedly, you hate authority and society with good reason and dream of a different, better world. Perhaps you are one of those people who has desires and hopes for yourself and your friends beyond what you have been allotted by the social order.
In short, perhaps you are one of the people some of us love best.
Never give in, never give up.