Psychiatrist and former mental patient, Dr. Daniel Fisher, director of the National Empowerment Center, made mention of a “peer recovery movement” recently. This “peer recovery movement” unfortunately may bear a direct relationship to the “mental health movement”. The “mental health movement” is that bunch of people who are always campaigning the government to spend more on “mental health”. What we get out of this movement, ultimately, is an increased “mental illness” rate, and the added economic burden that comes with such.
Actually, although it’s one thing to call the people who make up a jury “peers”, it’s quite another to call everyone who have been treated for an illusory illness a “peer”. I prefer the word “pee-ers”. I just see it as more honest. Some of us, after all, remain peerless. You have, in this situation, a very heterogeneous group of people. I see no reason to lump them all together into what becomes a motley collection of stereotypes. Doing so provides another instance for missing the basic humanity of humanity. Out of this oversight, you could say we have found something less than human there.
When the recovery movement is actually, in the main, a non-recovery movement–there’s no doubt about it–there the recovery movement is arm in arm with the “mental health” movement. This mental health movement, coming on the heels of the great asylum building reform movement of the nineteenth century, would extend the asylum hospital into the community. This has become a matter of the large state hospitals being replaced by mini-hospitals, transitional residences of a sort. The ultimate result is the hospital without walls, or the mental health ghetto, if you will.
The fact that so many “pee-ers” I have spoken with see themselves as “in recovery” until death kind of throws a monkey wrench into the works of this recovery movement. Whatever “in recovery” until death might be, one thing that it is not, is fully recovered. This paints us a rather ugly picture over all, doesn’t it? The government should be paying for an expanding system that manufactures more and more people characterizing themselves as psychiatrically disabled. The only check on such a system would have to be inevitable and impending periodic economic collapse.
I see myself as a member of the psychiatric survivor movement. I wouldn’t peddle mental health treatment as a “consumer product”. I just say let setbacks be setbacks, and not lifestyles, if you get my drift. I don’t encourage people to invest in “mental illness/mental health” because health, both physical and mental, resides outside of that “health” delivery system. What’s more, it’s a killing system. Where people don’t make these important connections, you get chronic mental patients. Oops, did I say chronic mental patients? Excuse me. I must have meant permanent and contented “consumers”.
Yes, mindless consumption can be a problem, especially where what you consume purports to be a form of medical treatment. Medical treatment presumes illness, or ill health, and the object of treatment is vitality, or good health. Should treatment not result in good health, it is not effective treatment, in medicine anyway. The problem with mental health treatment is that conventional treatment, standard practice, usually involves damaging the patient. When what the “consumer” then, “consumes”, is the “ill health” that comes of injury…. Well, I think you can see where this line of inquiry is leading.