Aug. 30th, 2013

nonionay: (goddesscross)
I spent the evening practicing Spanish on Duolingo, and discussing it with my Mom. She's a whiz when it comes to grammar, and despite her frequently saying it's been 40 years, she remembers an awful lot. I appear to have hit upon a subject that bypasses most of the irrational pathways in Mom's head. (and I'm crap at grammar, so I learn stuff from her) I can't do this forever, but I think for three weeks, I'll survive.

We also talked about her desires and the things that bother her about her life, and they really do make sense if you listen right. She's got a lot of standard issues (I'm not a woman if I don't do housework!" "I'm becoming an imbecile!") Just take those standard desires and neuroses that everyone has, and imagine voices telling you that you can't do things to address them. For instance, Mom wants to comb her hair, but the voices tell her that if she does, then she'll get fat. Imagine that, plus being forced into a loop where you have trouble connecting past and present, cause and effect. She said she does sometimes go against the voices and comb her hair. I said, "did you get fat?" She said, "well no but..." The outcome means nothing. She is trapped in the cage of "if you comb your hair you'll get fat."

R.D. Laing is one of the main figures of the "anti-psychiatry" movement, which basically tried to strip mental illness of its stigma, and get us to treat the mentally ill like anyone else. He did a lot of work with the families of schizophrenics (frequently people who desperately wanted their family members to be "fixed") and he found that in talking to the schizophrenic, they made perfect sense if you just listened. I can see what he's talking about, and maybe, in treating my mom more like an equal with reasonable concerns, she'll feel better about herself and her life, and the negative aspects of her schizophrenia will lessen.

This is hard to keep up, though. There's a horrible sense of tragedy talking with her about these things like combing her hair. She is trapped in a state that she can't escape, and I can't help her either. But one of the things I know about being a therapist is that the most important thing they do is simply to listen to people, and be that one person they can trust to take them seriously and withhold all judgement. In refusing to tell someone they need to be "fixed", you defuse that voice in the person's head that keeps telling them that they're broken. If a person can accept that maybe, in fact, they are not irredeemable, and all those weird things about them aren't just there to be hated and avoided, then they can take the first steps towards being a whole, happy person.


nonionay: (Default)

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