Listen with you heart

Last week, I interviewed a paranoid schizophrenic. He is young man who was diagnosed a few years ago. He is not currently taking his prescribed medications, but he knows what they are and knows that they work. He is not resistant to treatment; he is simply non-compliant because he doesn’t have the cognitive or financial resources to get his meds in a traditional way.

Eventually he can get his treatment; all he has to do is talk and make someone uncomfortable, they call the police. The process is unwittingly his health insurance as it exacerbates his paranoia and he becomes increasingly symptomatic.

We learn about some of this as doctoral candidates. You are not quite sure what you are learning until you see it clinically. Word salad is a like that. You only need to see it once to get it and then it's an "a ha" moment.

Word salad is more complex than complicated. Finely sliced, diced, and minced words that are not supposed to go together are tossed in a dressing of schizophrenic yearning. They -the words-absorb properties of each other. Nouns, verbs, all parts of speech at once cling to each other in all possible ways.

Some schizophrenics are able to rearrange language into such melodious poetry it takes a while to realize they are tossing a word salad. Nuances often start subtly but end with a big impact, a big finish.

Appreciating the complexities of this use of language is analogous to understanding wine. Both take practice and a willingness to be a relationship with your own senses. What happens to a few words in seconds or bunches of grapes over years only matters if you allow yourself to take these things in and experience.

When I allow my heart to go beyond the clinical pathology to listen in a different way, the message is not crazy, but true. Like this one, "America is in dis-a-may."
I think he's right.

Part Two

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
Dr Seuss

Yesterday I received a forwarded an email with instructions how to boycott a Muslim stamp. I wanted to scream, partly because I was afraid to disagree.
I felt dis-a-mayed.

I felt like asking: "Should I boycott African American History stamps because I don't like gangs?"

Or how about boycotting a Christmas stamp because the Oklahoma City bomber was Christian?

Today I got another forwarded email. Instead of grouping all Muslims into a group of terrorists, this one was directed at shaming the country Denmark because a group of Danish men practice a barbaric ritual. Does this mean Danes can no longer be great?

Terrible things happen in the world. Many times when there seems like there nothing we can do, I feel terrible and helpless and very sad. What happened with the emails is different. I can do something. Right now, all I have to do is have the courage to speak. As long as I am not silent I am not contributing to the spread of bias and prejudice.

It's a start.

Who hears me?


Anonymous said...

I hear you on both of these blog posts. With regard to the first with the paranooid schizophrenic, I have already written several school papers on the subject, and I have seen it first-hand (not through clinical observation, because I am not there yet) but because I know several people with the disorder. One takes medicaion and is in therapy, and the other frequently just does not have the mental capaity to be responsible for taking her daily medications. I think it is sad that the process of obtaining necessary medications in order to maintain some quality of life is such that it creates worsening os symptoms until the process is completed.

I am interested in creating an art therapy program during my doctorate program (which will probably begin next year) for medical practitioners can use to help people with conditions like schizophrenia in conjunction with other therapies. What is your opinion on the benefits of art therapy?

As far as the the email you received regarding the boycotting of the Muslim stamp, I have to say that people in the United States (and in many oter countries) seem to be harboring these prejudices out of ignorance, much like they do when they categorize and stygmatize entire groups of people by the actions of a few, or even because of preconceived beliefs that they refuse to change, no matter how much you try to rationalize with them. I have faced much of this just being gay, and I know that if some well-known gay person was depicted on a stamp, the same types of emails would circulate for the very same reasons. Sometimes I it is difficult to openly diagree with things like this, especially if there is a fear of some type of retribution. If the person sending the email is a friend, or relative there is the chance that you will be seen as someone who is deviating from what they see as "the norm". Sometimes you just have to pick and choose your battles, but the battle of discrimination and prejudice is why I am in the social psychology field: I want to try to change perspectives. I can't very well do that if I do not take a firm stand, no matter hard that might be. I do understand your reluctance! Great posts. I enjoyed reading them!

Beth Battinelli said...

I apologize to the anonymous reader who posted such a thoughtful comment 4 months ago. I only read your comment today.

I am encouraged by your comments, thank you. Good luck with your studies.