Power and Responsibility ($)
Honesty is the power you’re not ready for. The more, the better.
“The difference between being a Failure and being a Victim is a state of mind, because it is all about who you think is in control”.— David Summerton, business consultant
A First-Person Perspective Makes All the Difference
In the book A Road Back From Schizophrenia, author Arnhild Lauveng describes her progression into full-blown schizophrenia and her eventual recovery from it. The book is interesting because it chronicles what Western psychiatry claims is medically impossible—healing schizophrenia—and because it’s a first-person account of the reasons for this behavior.
The result is a logical explanation of the role of hallucinations and dissociation not based on trauma or neurological dysfunction, but involving both in subtle ways. The story makes plausible the descent into and the subsequent emergence from schizophrenia. It follows an oddly twisted logic of a hypersensitive person who can’t think straight. Aspects of this story also apply to normal thought and behavior.
You’re left to wonder why these events drove Arnhild over the edge, and what they would do to you. There is clearly something in her experience that we all struggle with, yet she was consumed by demons to the point of having to be committed and forcibly restrained. She could not be around sharp or fragile objects because she would rush to turn them into weapons to cut herself. She became the epitome of insanity.
Being A Victim Versus Being a Failure
Arnhild repeatedly returns to her being categorized as helpless, versus being considered responsible for her actions. She makes the point that when your behavior is excused because you’re sick, you have no responsibility. You’re told that you have no power and no control over what’s in your head. You’re treated as a person whose own efforts make no difference and to whom there is no point in explaining anything. You’re reduced to nothing more than a diagnosis.
Alternatively, if you’re given responsibility you’re also given blame and guilt. She gives the example of a rape victim who can either be seen as innocent or culpable. If you’re innocent then you were simply unlucky, and if your culpable, then it was your fault. In neither case are you understood or helped to understand.
She would be blamed for her violent behavior. Her response—now that she can form a response—is, “Would you blame a drowning person for struggling? Would you condemn them for making excessive attempts to get attention?”
She was either treated as incurably ill, or told she was acting out of a perverted attempt to control others and gain reward. She was alternately seen in one light or the other. That took away her ability to help herself, and helping herself was ultimately the path to her recovery. Nurses rarely tried to understand her needs and motivations. Doctors only prescribed drugs. But it was the interactions with people who worked to understand her that helped her regain her autonomy.
You and I are not locked in physical restraints by authorities who pass judgement without appeal. But we are pressed into compromised positions by the judgements of people who don’t really know us or care. These judgements prevail by accidental or institutional norms. As a result, we are subject to a similar effect, and develop relationships that identify and limit us.
If you’d like to identify your limiting relationships, let’s talk about it.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Stream of Subconsciousness to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.