How to Work with Issues of Mental Health Warehousing as a Professional

Early in my career as a social worker, I couldn’t even see the phenomenon of mental health warehousing let alone know how address the issue in a relationship. My college texts had promoted the mainstream eugenic presumptions associated with mental illness. I didn’t know what was needed to recover from things like psychosis, personality disorders, or addictions and live a fulfilling life other than to tell the client to take their medication.

 

Now, in my twenty-three years of experience working in the system, I have seen many other workers not really learn about the effects of mental health warehousing. It’s as if those of us who work in the field slept during social psychology lessons of Stanley Milligram and the Stanford Prison Experiments. And many of us who do understand the dehumanization process associated with warehousing may abandon the work for private practice. It’d nice it they left a little space in their practice for warehoused individuals. Perhaps some do.

 

Believe me, I never imagined that mental health warehousing would happen to a conscientious person who excelled in the mental health professional like myself. I used to think I was empathetic towards clients because that’s what always impressed others about me. Now I think I was just sympathetic and encapsulated! Indeed, though it could happen to most us, we rarely think that way. When I did land in warehousing, it was a real education.

 

Continue reading “How to Work with Issues of Mental Health Warehousing as a Professional”

Are you Prepared to Address Psychosis in Your Practice? (Feature-Length Version)

In Madness and Civilization, philosopher Michel Foucault has predicted a proliferation of madness as disparities increase and modern society advances. Indeed, with psychopharmacology industry booming, rates of addiction, fueled by the opioid epidemic, skyrocketing, terrorism wars raging abroad, ongoing drug wars afflicting low income neighborhoods, escalation in homeless encampments in major cities, and a rise in bullying in schools, and even cyberbullying, it really does seem like higher percentage of people have been forced to explore their mental health struggles. While mass shootings have kept danger stigma in the media high and the media response continues to reinforce silence about mental struggles, the field of psychotherapy does have a lot more trends to address.

When I look through my state’s psychotherapy association’s annual conference, I see many of these trends getting addressed in workshops. But ever invisible is the issue of psychosis. Is it possible that the issue of psychosis functions as a significant part of the madness narrative? Is it possible that psychosis too is affecting more and more Americans as Foucault inferred?

 

 

What the Statistic Say: Continue reading “Are you Prepared to Address Psychosis in Your Practice? (Feature-Length Version)”

How Diversifying Causation Beliefs Can Lead to Recovery from Psychosis

I believe that a powerful dialectic exists when participants study their similarities in psychoses focus groups. Converse to the great opportunities for growth that result when participants genuinely identify with each other, there are often important points of difference highlighted that likewise can lead to growth when nurtured properly.

I have observed that participants often become more aware of their diverse beliefs regarding the causation of their psychosis experiences. I also believe that the causation of psychosis experiences is a natural preoccupation for people who suffer. In fact, this preoccupation is so powerful, it warrants becoming part of the definition of psychosis in the model of treatment I have created.

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The Issue of Medication for Psychosis

The issue of whether to take medication or not can be a difficult one. While medication may work well for some, it may do little for others. This syncs with the fact that experiences associated with psychosis are vast and varied. People who suffer are very diverse, and causation remains nebulous.

I believe that causation for each person is a constellation of a series of modalities. I have witnessed how comparing causation theories becomes the spice of life in a psychosis support group. I find support groups for people who experience what is labeled as psychosis to be full of cultural learning that can result in powerful growth and wisdom.

As someone whose been in recovery for fifteen years, I have also witnessed the issue of medication to be politically divisive amongst message receivers or people who experience psychosis. Personally, I am starting to see it more as an element of cultural diversity in which differences can make the support groups I run vibrant and spectacular.

I believe I have a moderate view on this topic, which means it can be hard not to feel under attack in differing circles. My hope in this article is to provide perspectives to help people make their own decision about medication and work together regardless of their views and life experience.

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Two, Trauma-Sensitive Solutions for Psychosis

When I experienced two years of psychosis early during my career as a mental health counselor, I was already getting good at managing trauma with my master’s level training. I always been pretty good at being safe for others.

I wanted some of that trauma support when I found myself confined to a ward on a State Hospital. I knew I needed to establish safety with someone but couldn’t find anyone who would deal with me. Instead, no one treated me as though I was traumatized because they didn’t want to reinforce my delusions. This only made the trauma of what I experienced worse. Invariably, hospital workers were punitive and denied anything unjust was happening to me at all.

Because I worked tirelessly and had family support, I was able to return to my career in mental health. I got my psychotherapy license ten years ago and since that time I have worked to create trauma-sensitive treatment to address the needs of individuals who experience psychosis. Here, I intend to convey two trauma-sensitive solutions I have developed, working with people in groups and in individual treatment.

 

The Challenge of Establishing Trust: Continue reading “Two, Trauma-Sensitive Solutions for Psychosis”

Why I Say Special Messages Instead of Psychosis

For the past ten years I have used the words special messages to bring people together behind a better-defined notion of psychosis. I hope in this article will help better define what I mean by special messages and why I think that messages are part of a process that includes seven other components that I defined in my last article.

Many people who have worked with me presume that when I say special messages I mean voices. It’s true that the words hearing voices ring true as music to my ears. Indeed, the hearing voices movement has vastly improved the social understanding of what is happening to message receivers. Less dominant are the memes associated with all the “psycho” stigma that gets equated with the psychosis word. However, I still argue that just saying hearing voices fails to unite all people under the umbrella of the word psychosis.

Continue reading “Why I Say Special Messages Instead of Psychosis”

A New Definition of Psychosis

Psychosis is an antiquated word that leads to huge misunderstandings that play a large role oppressing a larger and larger portion of the population. For the past nine years I have run professional focus groups, going through the process of listening, exploring, reflecting, writing, seeking feedback and rewriting to get a better definition of psychosis.

 

Defining Psychosis, the Mainstream Way:

I remember using the mainstream definition as a young professional during the job I used to get me through my Master’s Program. Wondering how I was to connect with people who had delusions and voices that I clearly didn’t experience with my neurotic, highly-medicated self, I filled the white board with a list of labels and complicated words I was proud to be able to define. It was my college education that got me the job, and this was one way I could use it to be useful.

positive symptoms

Hallucinations:           reports of sounds (voices,) visuals, tactile sensations, tastes, and olfactory sensations that others do not experience

Delusions:                   “an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational . . .” In spite of the “preponderance of the evidence”

Disorganized Speech: Frequent derailment or incoherence): Word salad, tangential, or circumspect speech

negative symptoms

  1. Andhedonia
  2. Avolition
  3. Amotivation
  4. Alogia
  5. Attention Problems
  6. Catatonia
  7. Posturing
  8. Lethargy
  9. Flat affect
  10. Social Withdrawal
  11. Sexual Problems

 

The Errors of These Ways:

Life has taught me that the mainstream definition, as such, does little to depict what it feels like to have a break from reality. Indeed, not understanding this can cause a supporter to make things worse even when they have the best of intentions. Indeed, miscommunication, pain, and strained relationships often result once a sufferer has a break.

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The Need to Dismantle Industry Constructs (Part Three)

When I think back to my twenty-two-year career working with other providers, my mid-career first-break, and the things that helped me recover, like my dog, I know for sure that the standard of care needs is a disservice to those who experience madness.

Many people who have breaks from reality get that permanent housing trajectory in their heads and rant and rail against it. They may still believe that there is such a thing as schizophrenia and be disinterested in the lives of their peers who are clearly schizophrenics. Those who have breaks, like me, are extremely diverse with distinctive cultural backgrounds, different access to resources and differing levels of buy into to the concept that they are permanently ill with something that will never go away. Those without a history of privilege become very susceptible for decline into permanent warehousing conditions that make healing very challenging.

Clearly, dismantling industry constructs for things like schizophrenia and poor prognosis is an important component of recovery. I have a hunch that to plan for generativity, schizophrenic constructs, other disorder constructs that block the formation of counterculture, and constructs from developmental psychology need to be challenged.

 

 

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Continue reading “The Need to Dismantle Industry Constructs (Part Three)”

How the Privilege of Generativity Helped Me Accept My Family (Part Two)

My three-month psychiatric incarceration seemed to be aimed at discrediting me after I had leaked newspaper stories. On my way to Canada to seek asylum, I was stopped by police. I evaded them for three days through rural towns and surrendered one midnight, from a ditch on a mountain pass.

It was hard for me to accept the way I was treated. Confined to a ward for two weeks, I walked in circles. I barked on the payphone testing many of my supports. They all just said I was delusional.

I really did learn a lot from a mob boss’s daughter. There are a lot to the rules that govern those of us who get trafficked in this land of the free. Still, I did what I could to disrespect the mob especially because my counselor told me not to. And so, I endured a month of chronic warehousing conditions. I had to wear other peoples’ clothes to brave the ice-cold of the barely heated ward.

Continue reading “How the Privilege of Generativity Helped Me Accept My Family (Part Two)”

The Need to Plan for Your Loved Ones Recovery (Part One)

 

In the United States, when a person has what is often referred to as a first break, the courses of action that get taken against them may end up being a crime against their humanity.

While there can be very diverse responses from family and friends, there is the unfortunate tendency to turn to the mental health industry for support and direction. Many providers in the industry only know the standard of care which is to refer the person to a hospital and psychiatric medications.

Few providers take an interest in understanding and exploring the important experiences that lead to the break. I call these experiences special messages. Finding a provider who is curious about these experiences, skilled at understanding them, and who knows better than to try to suppress them can be rare.

Many providers fail to acknowledge the trauma involved in the lives of the people who have first breaks and that the trauma that gets worsened as the standard of care—forced medication, social security, revolving hospital doors, and warehousing—get implemented. Many presume this is a necessary process.

Continue reading “The Need to Plan for Your Loved Ones Recovery (Part One)”