Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The price of "abnormality."

I am sometimes asked I've never sought any official MH diagnosis.

Whose Planet Is It Anyway?: All Your Brains Are Belong To Us

Applying medical labels to cognitive differences also results in forcible use of drugs in many cases; after all, our society considers anyone who does not want treatment for an "illness" to be dangerously irrational. Ginger just posted a blog entry describing the ordeal of Nate Tseglin, an autistic teenager in California who was taken from his parents because they were seen as neglectful for not giving him medications to prevent self-injury. Although the parents explained that he had a history of strong negative reactions to psychiatric drugs, the authorities ignored their concerns and placed their son in a group home where he was forcibly drugged, as described in the Orange County Register:

… the parents were cut out of any decision-making regarding their son. They were given only short visits with him. After he ran away from the group home, the government transferred Nate to a mental hospital. The Tseglins say the drugs the hospital gave Nate caused him to have a "grand mal" seizure, and his health has continued to deteriorate while he languishes in a government mental facility. When they visited him over the summer, they found his face swollen. He faded in and out of consciousness and was suffering from convulsions. They believe he has been beaten and are worried about sexual abuse, given that he is housed with the criminally insane.

The Tseglins claim Child Protective Services has told them they have the "wrong set of beliefs" and even threatened to force them to undergo court-ordered psychological evaluation. The agency at one point suspended the parents' visitations as a way "to assist them in coming to grips regarding their son." The Tseglins, as former citizens of the Soviet Union, have good reason to be fearful of the authorities. But they tell me that they experienced nothing of this sort in the former communist nation. If their descriptions are correct, then the Soviets weren't the only ones who know how to create a totalitarian bureaucracy.

Ginger is asking autism bloggers to write about this case in the hope of shaming the authorities into letting Nate go home. We need to be aware, however, that this is by no means an isolated incident. Children in the foster care system are routinely given strong psychiatric medications to keep them docile, and this has been going on for many years. I used to know a woman in California who was a licensed foster parent. When she got a new kid placed in her home, the first thing she did was throw away the kid's meds. That was her way of fighting back against a broken system that was destroying children's lives.

That was 25 years ago.

We now have a society that spends vast sums waging a largely ineffectual "war on drugs" while, at the same time, enforcing a psychiatric regime that routinely uses powerful drugs for the purpose of "combating" autism and other neurological variations. Millions of American citizens are stigmatized, coerced in various ways, and sometimes locked up because they are using illicit drugs to change the functioning of their brains. Millions more are stigmatized, coerced in other ways, and sometimes locked up because they have not altered their brains enough to meet with society's approval. And the ever-shrinking group of "normal" people in the middle has to live in fear of what might happen if, at some point, they or their family members were to be judged "abnormal."
It is but one small step from designating someone as being "different" to "potentially lacking in self control" to "to dangerous to allow in society" to "unworthy of life."

Many, besides me, have noted that Autism Speaks has studiously ignored any input from Autistics, offers publicity that tends to increase the fear of autistic births as being the ruin of entire families, while seeking a genetic test. And they are not even particularly subtle about their ultimate goals.

The ethics of this are, aside from obviously bad, should be obviously familiar. Read into the Eugenics movement. Don't stop when you trip over the Nazis - though you will. It originated in North America. It's our own old nightmare, come back to trouble us again.

But then again, we've never needed much excuse to take sides against one another.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Graphic Truths from a comic

I wish I could draw half so well or speak as brutal a truth as eloquently as does Lesya, the creator of Denizens! Attention!

You see, I've been spending my time rediscovering my roots. Looking back on my life, where I came from, what I did, and what I thought important at the time. And the thread through it all, I'm pleased to say, has been ethics; the art and discipline of not being a complete waste of skin.

I most specifically include my time spent toiling within the so-called "adult" industry.

More on that another time; it doesn't fit this post, other than it was an area I needed to explore in my quest to understand the apparent need those with power seem to have to abuse those who are less powerful.

I think it's something we all need to understand better, given our recent history. Well, today I had just finished reading Alice Miller's groundbreaking work on the effects of toxic childrearing philosophies "For your Own Good (full text)" and then this came up as a recommended comic on

I choose to take that as a sign.


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