Mental Illness as Rebellion Against Society

June 2024 Forums General discussion Mental Illness as Rebellion Against Society

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  • #110587
    ALB
    Keymaster

    This article on Laing by R. Baltrop from the August 1972 Socialist Standard is on our archives section here:https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1970s/1972/no-816-august-1972/mind-cul-de-sac-laingAs is this more recent one from last December's issue:http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2010s/2015/no-1336-december-2015/mixed-media-mary-barnes

    #110588
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    I always recall a fellow Edinburgh branch member who was a psychiatric nurse talking about schizophrenia and this was in the late 70s or early 80s-something and his remark that he hoped the cause of the illness was something organic or to do with genetics because then we would be able to seek out cures…if it was environmental as Laing and others were saying, then the chances of changing society to treat the illness was realistically going to be more impossible to do. I was particlarly scathing about treatment of mental health at the time, particularly of ECT and the "chemical coshes" such as lithium and its side effects. I think i would be less condemnatory these days but my views at the time were coloured by the fact i was sharing a flat with ex-in-patients. They endeavoured to create a self-help group but a question was raised, was it healthy for people in recovery to remain attached to the hospital instead of moving on. I don't remember who said it but i got told…a psychiatric patient reading about mental illness is like an anorexic reading a menu.My sister became a community psychiatric nurse at 50 in a scheme created by Blair to fast track on the job qualification because of high profile lapses on treatment that had led to some random stabbings etc. She ended up working for the court system monitoring those on bail conditions of non-drug use and then later she worked for the prison system dispensing methadone. I recall watching tv one morning of the Jeremy Kyle show and her explaining…."my god, i know them".And as an aside…the more serious drug problem in prisons was the use of illegal steroids being smuggled in, all those pumping iron, physical fitness muscle bilding addicts……that and , of course , tattoos :-p 

    #110586
    Giuseppe-Joe
    Participant

    I encountered Laing in print in 1974(the same year when I first read The Socialist Standard)when I was at Newcastle Polytechnic. I worked my  way through the Divided Self ,Self and Others and The Politics of Experience.Along with Eric Hobsbawm he had an enormous impact on the way I viewed the world. I also recall listening to Laing being interviewed by Anthony Clair on the Radio Programme 'The Psychiatrists Chair' in the 1980s. Laing came across as both humane ,humourous and self critical.He appeared to have shifted his position on the use of medication in Psychiatry and admitted that he was not a plaster saint by any means.Whilst there apears to be a genetic component to schizophrenia Laing should be lauded in his attempts to humanise psychiatry, to give patients a voice.As a social worker I have experienced the dominance of the medical model and the arrogance of so called professionals.A lot of so called medical opinion is often class prejudice disguised by medical terminology. Laing(along with another significant figure of The 1960s Harold Wilson)is undergoing a re-evaluation.

    #110589
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    ALB said:#23 the Tories and the disabled“Genes do determine anatomical and physiological defects or abnormalities in some individuals which will influence (limit in some cases) what the individual affected can do as well as the attitude of society towards them. In fact it is significant that it is only genes determining such defects and abnormalities that have been identified.”#15 current thread“There does seem to be a genetic element in some mental illness (via the anatomy and physiology of the brain as part of the body), not nearly as much as some claim but still some, …..”I am assuming here that by “abnormalities” you also include mental “abnormalities” – so in fact you are saying (correct me if I am wrong) that genes have an effect on “abnormal” mental conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and I take it you would also include autism under this banner.Therefore you are saying that you think there is a genetic component to mental illness or mental abnormality – but not to mental “normality”.  But think about the logic here:  if there are genetic components to “abnormal” mental conditions, then as a corollary, there must be genetic components to “normal” mental conditions.  This must be so, how could it be otherwise?The other thing I want to point out, is that people do not have the mental conditions we are discussing here in an either/or, black or white way.  The autistic spectrum, for example, is a sliding scale (a scale you could say we all fit onto somewhere); there are severely affected individuals with no language and difficult behaviour, and yes, these are truly disabled.  But at the other end of the scale there are very intelligent, competent and gifted individuals, often working as engineers, computer experts or mathematicians with this diagnosis.  They are great systematic thinkers, and do a great job in their field – but their ability to interact with others is reduced.  Their eye contact may be bad, they may have little idea of how to answer a telephone, how to contribute to the give and take of a normal conversation, etc.  It could be argued, and quite often is, that individuals at this end of the spectrum are not suffering from a disability at all, but instead have been gifted with a wonderful brain which lets them concentrate in great detail on problems and fields that interest them, and lets them contribute to society in these fields.Current autism research concludes that autism is largely inherited; and this is the case wherever you are on the spectrum, whether at the low or high functioning end.  In fact, if you are high functioning, sometimes called “Asperger’s”, the argument is that this is just “another way of seeing the world”. (Autism is part of human variability.)  Asperger’s advocacy groups often react badly to being told that they need to be “cured”, as they argue that theirs is a condition, not a disorder (hence we should talk about autistic spectrum conditions (ASC’s), not autistic spectrum disorders (ASD’s)).  I used to think autism was pathological, but I have totally changed my opinion on this as my knowledge has increased, so that I am now more in line with the Asperger’s advocacy groups just mentioned.You could say that if you are on the autistic spectrum, your biology has “determined” your condition, as this is not something people “get better” from over a life time.  It is part of who you are.  This does not mean, of course, that ”nothing can be done”.  At the lower end, there are dedicated professionals working to improve the affected individuals’ ability to interact with the world around them, using for example visual aids and the “Makaton” signing language.  At the high functioning end, people can learn, in a scripted way, how to communicate better with the rest of us (sometimes called “neuro-typicals”).  Via role play of social situations, they can be taught how to have “more normal” eye contact, how to do the necessary “social chit chat” to blend more easily in with neuro-typicals  (“hello, how are you, what a spot of awful weather we are having to day, how was your journey into work”, etc.).For anyone who would like to check up on the articles I posted links to before, here they are again:http://www.autism.org.uk/24984https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/initiatives/autism-genome-projecthttps://www.autismspeaks.org/science/initiatives/autism-genome-project/first-findingsSumming up, the following are points I have tried to make in my posts:·         most (not all) human traits are on a sliding scale·         if a trait has a genetic component this does not mean that “nothing can be done” to  contain or ameliorate the expression of it·         the environment interacts with genes from the word goI have also tried to highlight the environmental aspects of mental ill health, how present capitalist society is contributing to a worsening of mental health (mainly causing depression and anxiety).

    #110590
    ALB
    Keymaster
    Meel wrote:
    ALB said:#23 the Tories and the disabled“Genes do determine anatomical and physiological defects or abnormalities in some individuals which will influence (limit in some cases) what the individual affected can do as well as the attitude of society towards them. In fact it is significant that it is only genes determining such defects and abnormalities that have been identified.”#15 current thread“There does seem to be a genetic element in some mental illness (via the anatomy and physiology of the brain as part of the body), not nearly as much as some claim but still some, …..”I am assuming here that by “abnormalities” you also include mental “abnormalities” – so in fact you are saying (correct me if I am wrong) that genes have an effect on “abnormal” mental conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and I take it you would also include autism under this banner.Therefore you are saying that you think there is a genetic component to mental illness or mental abnormality – but not to mental “normality”.  But think about the logic here:  if there are genetic components to “abnormal” mental conditions, then as a corollary, there must be genetic components to “normal” mental conditions.  This must be so, how could it be otherwise?

    I never said that the anatomy and physiology of the brain, as part of the body, was not genetically determined. Most humans are capable of extensive learning and absorbing culture. Some are. unfortunately, not and are described as having "learning difficulties". In most cases this will be due to some defect in the way their body works which is likely to be genetic.As to conditions such as those classified as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, they seem to be related to too little or too much of chemicals produced by the body such as serotonin, dopamine. I'm prepared to accept that a body producing too much or too little of them could be due to some genetic condition, i.e a bodily "defect" or "abnormality" (though this could also have environmental causes too, just as a brain trauma can affect a person's ability to learn).That's what I was trying to say when I wrote about there being a genetic element in some mental conditions. It's not so much the mental condition itself that would be genetic of course as the body's physical anatomy/physiology that gives rise to it or makes it more likely.

    #110591
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    I thought this from today's Independent might be of interest to this threadhttp://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/depression-not-governed-by-genes-and-environment-is-a-major-factor-when-it-comes-to-being-happy-a6958686.html

    Quote:
    Depression is not governed by genes, according to a new study that says our environment is a major factor when it comes to being happy and that nurture can override nature.
    #110592
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi AlanYes, the opinion expressed in this article is not a million miles from what I said in my post #11.The key expression is the term "governed by", which I take to mean "determined by".  I don't think depression is "governed by" genes (in the sense "determined by").  I do think genes play a role, in that they make some people more prone to the condition than others.  Some people have a lower "breakage point" to a certain number of stressors.  If these stressors had not been present in the environment, they most probably would not have developed the condition.This is similar to someone who is lactose intolerant.  If he or she never eats dairy product, they are not going to have the intolerance symptoms.Meel

    #110593
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Hi ALBYou said:"That's what I was trying to say when I wrote about there being a genetic element in some mental conditions. It's not so much the mental condition itself that would be genetic of course as the body's physical anatomy/physiology that gives rise to it or makes it more likely."We are possibly in agreement here – but only if you agree that the wide spectrum of "mental conditions" that fall within the "normal" range (however that is defined) also has a genetic component.  And yes, it is all down to anatomy/physiology and chemicals in the end.Somewhat related to this, I caught a few minutes of the "pop" scientist Professor Brian Cox on TV the other day, talking about the origin of life – whether there was such a thing a mystical, je-ne-sais-quoi element to "life" – a spark, if you will.  He quite categorically said that life can be explained by just physical processes, chemistry, sub-atomic particles and so forth.  Not that I was in any doubt.  :o)Meel

    #110594
    ALB
    Keymaster

    I don't know what you are trying to get me to agree to here. Obviously, the brain is part of the physical body and so its development and what it is capable of doing is genetic. That's what genes do. And not everybody's genes are exactly the same. The mind (what a brain actually does as opposed to what it is capable of doing, if you like) is not genetic but depends on the circumstances in which the brain operates and has operated since birth, the early years being particularly important for a person's "personality". There are "mental conditions" and "mental conditions", some caused by the way a person was brought up, others by some genetic defect. Specialists in the field are arguing over which are which. Some, however, seem to be confusing "brain" and "mind".

    #110595
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    Hi Just to add a little clarification, not all pre-birth "mental conditions" are necessarily genetic. For example Down's Syndrome (where maternal age is a risk factor) is Chromosomal (although the chromosomes contain the genes), as is Fragile X syndrome. Similarly Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, lack of nutrients, maternal over exposure to stress, etc. are not genetic, but may have profound impacts on the developing foetus, however they are not genetic. At present 65% of Congenital Birth Defects have no currently identifiable cause and even factors such as the father's age may have a significant impact on heart disease.I think part of the difficulty is the over simplification of the issue to the reductionist "There's a gene for it" approach. Going back to what was discussed earlier, my own view is that taking account the hereditary nature of personality which to an extent sets the scene, the biggest and most significant factor in the development of personality is the attachment the individual experienced during their infancy and early childhood.

    #110596
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Here's an example from today's papers of junk science in this field of research into "personality" based on assuming that this is inherited (and, as usual with sociobiologists, without putting forward any biological process as to how this could happen, just assuming it):http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/science/article4725656.eceThe full paper can be read here:http://www.academia.edu/21585300/An_evolutionary_account_of_the_prevalence_of_personality_traits_that_impair_intimate_relationshipsIt contradicts another famous assumption of the sociobiologists that originally sexual partners were chosen by individuals and which they use to advance theories about all sorts of things.

    #110597
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    Interesting Abstract:"Personality traits such as low emotional stability and low empathy have a considerable negative impact on an individual's mating success. This impact is more severe in cases where such traits reach extreme levels and are classified as personality disorders. Several evolutionary models have been proposed to account for the relative high prevalence of these apparently maladaptive traits. The present paper contributes to the explanatory power of these models by putting forward the hypothesis that in ancestral human societies selection pressures on personality traits that predict success in intimate relationships had been weak. The reason why is that mate choice had been controlled by parents, mainly fathers, who did not place considerable weight on these traits in a prospective son- and daughter-in-law, and who were willing to impose substantial costs on their children in order to benefit themselves from a marriage alliance"Apart from the obvious massive assumption that "Personality Disorder" has a heritable base, which has been brought into huge question by Attachment Theory, it also makes other unsupported assumptions. One is the low mating success of people with personality disorders, I would question this on a couple of grounds, firstly it makes the assumption that the person who is legally the father is biologically the father, which in recent studies ha shown not to be the case in up to 12% of births, and does not take into account the number of children whose father is unknown. It also assumes that in making an arranged marriage at all levels of society, the parental interest is only in the alliance from the marriage and not the well being of the son or daughter.In a sense the question it poses "why does an unattractive feature like personality disorder continue to be heritable, when it has a negative impact on mating success". Gives the most obvious answer only when you step outside of the heritability trap, the reason it continues to be present is because it is largely environmental, not heritable!

    #110598
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Personality disorder has been mentioned.  The causes of these conditions are complex, but I would tend to go with what most literature and research reports I have come across seem to be saying, namely that it has both social AND genetic causes.Anyone interested can easily do their own research on the web, or read a few books, but take for example this article (there is a link to research papers in the article):“CAUSESFor many years, it was commonly believed that the main cause of borderline personality disorder was poor or uninformed parenting. It now seems most likely that both environmental and biological factors, especially genetic ones, place a person at risk for developing the disorder.4,9-12 For example, psychological and social (environmental) factors, including but not limited to poor parenting, increase the risk of developing the disorder in those people biologically predisposed to it.9 It appears that no single cause, or risk factor, is responsible by itself for causing the disorder. In fact, it now appears that a genetic predisposition for developing the disorder is necessary, and that environmental factors may increase the risk but are not essential.Finally, it is generally held that biological and environmental risk factors interact to reach a certain critical level of brain dysfunction in order for the symptoms of borderline personality disorder to become apparent. It appears that this critical degree of disturbance of brain function can be achieved by a large amount of biological risk which requires only a low amount of environmental risk, low biological risk coupled with high environmental risk, or intermediate levels of both.Biological Risk FactorsResearch studies now suggest that 60% of the risk of developing borderline disorder is conveyed by genetic abnormalities.10 These abnormalities appear to affect the proper functioning of those brain pathways or circuits that serve the behavioral functions of emotion information processing, impulse control and cognitive activity such as perception and reasoning. Current research suggests that there is not a single, specific gene for borderline disorder. It appears that the genes that increase risk for the disorder may be passed on by people who have the disorder itself, or a related disorder, such as bipolar disorder, depression, substance use disorders, ADHD and posttraumatic stress disorder.Environmental Risk FactorsOf all environmental factors that place a person at risk for developing borderline disorder, those associated with poor or uninformed parenting appear to be the most critical.9,11,12 These include early separation from one or both parents, repeated emotional, physical or sexual abuse by someone within or outside of the family itself, and inconsistent, unsupportive care. Poor parenting can also include failing to protect the child from repeated abuse by the other parent, another member of the family, or an outsider.It is important to understand that children who have not been exposed to such environmental traumas can still develop borderline disorder. This suggests that in some people the biological risk of developing the disorder is very high, and may be sufficient in the absence of environmental traumas.”http://www.bpddemystified.com/what-is-bpd/causes/And the NHS website says:http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Borderline-personality-disorder/Pages/Causes.aspxIf Attachment Theory can be used to help treat some people with personality disorder, that’s very encouraging, of course.

    #110599
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    Hi MeelI think you misunderstand Attachment Theory. Attachment Theory is a theory of causation, as much as a theory of treatmentnumber of different studies have consistently made the link between childhood attachment with the development of adult personality disorders and they have established  that an insecure attachment is a highly relevant risk factor for the development of this condition.Bakermans-Kranenburg and Van IJzendoorn report that the usual attachment pattern spread with mothers  in the general the population is: 58% secure attachment, 23%  dismissive, 19% preoccupied, and an additional 18% as unresolved attachment. Their extensive review  of studies over the last  25 years  that have used the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) as their basis found that individuals presenting with BPD had very significantly more  insecure and unresolved-disorganised attachment than in  the general population.Fonagy et al report that  92%  of people with BPD  presented with insecure attachment (assessed through the AAI),&  that the number of people with preoccupied and unresolved-disorganised  types was especially noteable.West et al undertook a study of women with BPD, and  found that the women mainly had early attachment relationships of the insecure  preoccupied type.Patrick et al. found an 83%  preoccupied attachmentBarone et al. found high rates (81% overall and as high as 97% in certain BPD diagnostic subgroups) of insecure and unresolved-disorganized attachment as assessed by the AAI in a large sample (N= 140) of BPD  patients.it is important to note that Attachment Theory does not attribute poor attachments purely to some kind of “poor parenting only” model. Childhood experiences, like adult experiences are multi-facetted and varied. A child may experience early  separation due to being placed in an incubator which is the way a loving, knowledgeable and caring parent would care for a premature baby) they may suffer continual pain due to an unresolved childhood illness (infantile arthritis, for example) which means that the parent doesn’t become the source of relief from anxiety and pain, etc., etc. issues such as autism, ADD, ADHD, may make caring for the child more difficult and stressful for the parent and this may lead to difficulty with bonding and attachment. A child with profound physical disability may spend more time separated from their care giver because of hospitalisation. Children living through war, famine, poverty, may have care from parents who are quite understandably preoccupied with other things.What I do find sinister is that for over half a century overwhelming evidence has demonstrated the need for infants to have early, consistent, predictable, loving care, yet still government policy is about getting children into day “care”; as early as possible, getting them into “learning”; as soon as possible, so that the number of available workers is increased to depress the price of labour and to ensure that children’s heads are filled with the things they need to become the next set of wage slaves When we have a sane society (Socialism) we can provide the support needed for parents of both sexes to enjoy caring for and nurturing their children, helping them to play, learn about the world develop friendships and security

    #110600
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    You might find the work of Robertson and Robertson interesting. Here is a link to James Robertson's wiki entry:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Robertson_(psychoanalyst)Although I don't think it gives enough credit to his wife Joyce.The films they made were truly groundbreaking, I would post my copies on here but they are under copywrite to a charity which supports theri work.here is a link to an extract of one of their films on YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s14Q-_Bxc_Uthe full film is even more harrowing, as is their film of a child going into a residential nursery whilst his mother has a baby.

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