Getting Adjusted

December 20, 2005

Jeff Schmidt’s ‘Disciplined Minds’ is a wonderful tool for examining why a profession fails in certain areas. For instance; psychiatry in the general area of, umm… well, psychiatry.

“People’s mental problem’s often appear as deviations from social or legal norms and therefore are problems for the status quo as well as the deviant individuals.

The problems of both would be solved if troubled individuals abided by the values of the status quo, and of course the mainstream mental health system more often that not works to alter behaviour in that direction. But attempting to adjust people to the unhealthy society that caused their problems in the first place may not be the healthiest approach for either the individual or society”

He goes on…

Evidently it is not the place of clinicians to question the health of the society to which the patient must be adjusted. Their ‘legitimate’ professional concern is how best to bring about the adjustment. In this alone, they are expected to use their creativity. The few who do raise questions are seen as getting political…”

This reminds me of something I read in Grace Llewellyn’s Teenage Liberation Handbook about Japanese school students. Japan has 180,000 ‘school refusers’, Grace Llewellyn quoted Dr Pat Montgomery director of Clonara (home based education program) writing in the 90s:

“last year the suicide rate of young boys hit an all time high…. When the school refusers quit going to school there are not many places they can go. Their self-esteem sinks to a low because they are disgracing their families… I must emphasise they do not make this decision gleefully; they are usually physically ill leading up to it and afterwards… I was shown a hospital in Tokyo where all ten floors held children with school phobia… The idea was to rehabilitate them so that they could go back to school.”

It ALSO reminds me of this comment from an article on Ecopsychology by Robin van Tine about Separation Anxiety Disorder:

Seperation Anxiety Disorder is a “…disorder diagnosed for children if they have “difficulty at bedtime and may insist that someone stay with them until they fall asleep. During the night, they may make their way to their parents’ bed; if entry to the parental bedroom is barred, they may sleep outside the parents’ door”. Who has the mental disorder here? What is the “normal” natural, healthy behavior? All social primates cuddle their young closely most of the time — as do social mammals. In most non-Westernized societies parents and children sleep together. I believe that the diagnosis is misapplied here: the parental behavior of locking the child away at night time and punishing the child for wanting to naturally be with the parent is the unnatural and perhaps pathological symptom …“

I’m going to have a lot more to say about the various insanities we visit upon our children. In fact I’m probably going to end up concluding that our childhoods consist of the one seamless traumatic experience. But more on that later.

So here we have seemingly unrelated writing on professionalism, home schooling and what is probably considered a fringe branch of psychology and they all seem to be saying the same thing. The question is: Are we listening?


One comment

  1. great post! keep writing…


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