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Pathologization of non-standard behavior as mental illness


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When anyone else reads this article do they get the feeling that this guy's diagnosis of schizophrenia is incorrect?

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/not-the-whole-person/201801/can-marijuana-trigger-schizophrenia

What's wrong with walking on the beach barefoot and feeling connected to nature?  Sounds pretty reasonable to me.  The dude overestimated his swimming skills when he went into the ocean, but that happens to lots of people, like hikers and mountain climbers.

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Henry Cockburn’s first hospitalization for schizophrenia was in February of 2002. At the age of twenty he was attending an art school in Brighton, in the UK, when he felt the need to go “walking barefoot along the edge of the sea… I felt brambles, trees, and wild animals all urging me on.  It was as if they were looking at me and I could feel what they thought.

            “I walked ten miles…  to the estuary and hid by a low wall.  I didn’t want to go into the water at first, but finally, I did.... I was there when a fisherman held out his hand.” That incident ended with his admission to a psychiatric hospital.  There a doctor told him he had a mental illness. “I didn’t think of it as an illness but as an awakening, a spiritual awakening.  I thought there was another side to the world I hadn’t seen before.” Over the years of his illness, he continued to run away periodically, even as he was moved to ever more secure facilities to prevent him escaping. By his own count he escaped some 30 times.

            Once away from the hospital, he would strip and swim in the English Channel or wander the countryside naked for days hearing the voices of the natural world, without thinking of the risks to his life. His parents lived in dread of the telephone call telling them that once again he had managed to break out of hospital. Then followed frightened days and nights until he was found.

Edited by Zeffolia
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reading the first paragraphi think he was barefoot as in baredicked

ok i thikn i unerstand the story. seehe a sweed moker. then he was naked. walked into water. "fisher man held out his hand" wtf does that mean? if u are naked and someone holds out their hand

kinda sad story. just wanting to be straig nakked and they always drag u bag. "some 30 times" "without thinking of the risks to his life" must be aweful to live without thinking about risks !!!!! jk

i mean think a bout it: the guy was anudist.. jus wanted to be naked in da nature. and his name was COCKBURN.

so don't smoke

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Seems kind of shitty to deprive him of his cool spiritual wanderings really.  Provided he can swim, what's the problem with someone going in the water on a whim?  Fuck's sake, let people enjoy their gifts provided they're not hurting anyone else.  The things mentioned in the article don't sound unusually dangerous.

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Over the years of his illness, he continued to run away periodically, even as he was moved to ever more secure facilities to prevent him escaping

 

Prevent him from escaping?  What the fuck?  That's like some one flew over the cuckoo's nest dystopian horror story.  Were they trying to prevent him from escaping without his consent, like involuntarily commit him and then try to stop him from escaping?  Or did he agree to give them permission to try to prevent him from escaping?  If so, why?  Was he manipulated into thinking it was a good idea through psychologist-babble?

What about daredevils like snowboarders who jump off cliffs?  Should they be involuntarily committed?

I get the feeling this dude is getting fucked hard by the system and I'm concerned for him

Edited by Zeffolia
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^precisely--that's why that Joseph Campbell quote is so right: "the psychotic drowns in the same waters a mystic swims in". It's not an easy issue. I'm not all that hot on the Pharma-Psychiatric Complex but at the same time, if you're loved ones start wandering into the sea and shit....you're gonna want some resources. The devil is always in the details. Will the "resources" harm or help? Sadly, usually both. 

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10 hours ago, Zeffolia said:

Once away from the hospital, he would strip and swim in the English Channel or wander the countryside naked for days hearing the voices of the natural world, without thinking of the risks to his life.

Although I have sympathy for the notion of over-pathologization (kids on ADHD medication, for instance), this story doesn't seem like a good example. Especially given we know so little from it, apart from that he was hospitalised. Hospitalisations don't fall out of the sky. Key of the missing ingredient in this story, is his mental state when he wanders naked. I'm sure it's far from lucid.

This reminds of someone I know who had similar tendencies and was hospitalised as well. When they wander off like that, I'd say their mental state is closer to dreaming or sleep walking. And before we delve off into the semantics, lets start by questioning the ability of people to support themselves while in such a state. Because in the end it's about well-being of those individuals (and those around them). If lives are at stake, people tend to be hospitalised. 

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9 hours ago, goDel said:

Although I have sympathy for the notion of over-pathologization (kids on ADHD medication, for instance), this story doesn't seem like a good example. Especially given we know so little from it, apart from that he was hospitalised. Hospitalisations don't fall out of the sky. Key of the missing ingredient in this story, is his mental state when he wanders naked. I'm sure it's far from lucid.

This reminds of someone I know who had similar tendencies and was hospitalised as well. When they wander off like that, I'd say their mental state is closer to dreaming or sleep walking. And before we delve off into the semantics, lets start by questioning the ability of people to support themselves while in such a state. Because in the end it's about well-being of those individuals (and those around them). If lives are at stake, people tend to be hospitalised. 

That's a really interesting observation.  But what if they are fully lucid and able to describe it convincingly through writing?  They still experienced it even if it was some sort of altered state.  Many people experience altered states in daily life, like flow states when doing difficult work, or automatic driving where you realize you arrived at your destination without thinking much about the individual steps you took to get their while driving, you just sort of zoned out.  Are we therefore all mentally ill just because some mental states in daily life are abnormal if you pry into them?

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There are always grey areas, of course. And one of the questions that can pop up is "who are we to judge what's right or wrong?". One example I currently think about is Alan Turing. Who got treated for being openly gay in the 1940s in the previous century. He committed suicide because of the treatment he received. Insane stuff like that can happen when people show behavior out of the "norm". 

People wandering off for days, naked, seem to me another matter though. "Without thinking of the risks of his life" is key here. And because you can't really get from the text why, I'd argue that's the thing what should bother you as a reader. It could mean all sorts of things, like not eating, or ignoring traffic rules. And if he says he's hearing the voices of the natural world, I don't get the impression he was hearing the stuff we do. But rather actual voices. Talking to him. Again, it's written like prose so it can be interpreted in all kinds of ways.

I think you give his experiences the best possible interpretation. And it's pretty easy to project your own lucid state on his perspective. Normally, we don't think about the risks of life as well. And we can also wander off while in traffic, to a certain degree. But normally we tend to snap out of it pretty fast though, if circumstances demand full attention. What if we don't? It can become a serious issue pretty fast. Like sleeping behind the wheel.  

So it takes a bit of work to recognize an issue in the context of "wandering off for days". But again, in cases like this, when people are being hospitalized, the general rule used is about the well-being of those individuals. And given that he says he wasn't thinking about the risks of life, for days (don't assume that being a conscious choice, btw), I believe the case for hospitalization was warrented. Even if we don't have the full picture. 

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Happy to see a lot of people concurring with over-medicalisation and -pathologisation being an issue. However I especially agree with goDel. I've met quite a few people like this at work and many of them actually do end up needing hospitalisation due to bouts of lability and the occasional violence, if not malnutrition or other reasons more harmful/dangerous to themselves than others.

What also needs to be taken account when reading stories about "abnormal" people being what seems to be maltreated by psychiatry and whatnot, is that healthcare institutions are bound by secrecy and therefore can't contribute at all to the story. I'm not saying this is what happened, but it is pretty easy to paint a victimising and romanticising picture of a patient, considering nobody informed can contradict whatever story is being told. Happens every time you see these stories in media. Especially in cases of medical restraint. For instance: in what manner did he try to "break out" of the hospital? Or, what goDel said, what is really meant by hearing voices of the natural world? Of course, it could be argued that if he was wrongly hospitalised he had some kind of a right to defend himself, but it could just be anosognosia, which is quite common among psychotic patients. How on earth did he manage to escape 30 times though... times have changed.

response to below: heh sorry/thanks. i considered linking to it but it ruined my post aesthetics

Edited by splbt
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Anosognosia: is a deficit of self-awareness, a condition in which a person with some disability seems unaware of its existence.

I had to look it up. So I share it with you in case anybody else is wondering ?

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based on the article the guy seems to be psychotic, probably even having schizophrenia

yes, it's possible to become psychotic from THC (and especially hallucinogens), i saw it many times. it's 7 times greater possibility of getting schizophrenia alone. sometimes it's a question whether the egg or the chicken came first, bc psychologically speaking ppl that have traits of sub-psychotic functioning are prone to abusing THC and hallucinogens 

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the impact of long term, inappropriate "sections" is all over the news currently, but then the news moves on & people forget

working alongside advocacy services & with dignity of spirit in mind, the amount of schizophrenics who fall through the system is more of a concern, at least across these islands because of the outcomes for all concerned

the NHS does epic work, but if that schizoid-personality is on/off meds because of a poorly constructed care-plan (if one exists at all) compounded by appalling supervision, self-medicating w/hundreds of £ crack a day, rampaging in pubs, manipulating vulnerable people, crossing your path one dark stormy night, it's a different world of outcomes

Anyone can challenge a diagnosis, but Britain's "services" are borderline medieval & fucked at every level, the pharmacology Kesey-esque & the charitable sector well-meaning but doomed to ineffectiveness from underfunding

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When the NHS farms off mental health services to the pvt sector (where just about anything is "legal") @ increasing levels &/or the average NHS in-patient period extending to 2 years, yeah it's knives & hammers forks all round. Conceding there's at least some form of public-access structure doesn't change illegal incarcerations

These sort of scandals are now standard practice, but bcos of Brexit our psychosphere is instead being infiltrated by Boris Johnson & gods give me the strength to even type it Jeremy fkn Hunt.

Things are gonna get worse nurse.

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