Psychiatry has many functions. Some of these are the same as the other fields of Western medicine, but psychiatry is unique in several respects. It is the only branch of medicine that treats people physically in the absence of any known physical pathology. It is the only branch of medicine that ‘treats’ conduct, alone, in the absence of symptoms and signs of illness of the usual kind. It is the only branch of medicine that treats people against their will, in any way it likes, if it deems it is necessary. It is the only branch of medicine that imprisons patients, if judged necessary.
R. D. Laing
Royal College of Psychiatrists : Code of Ethics
Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth – more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. It sees man, a feeble speck, surrounded by unfathomable depths of silence; yet it bears itself proudly, as unmoved as if it were lord of the universe. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.
…and you can’t use your therapist as solace and as retreat.
And your therapist can’t use you. The three big diagnostic terms that you hear thrown around now are codependency, addiction and narcissism. We know from the new literary criticism, deconstruction, that any description you use are always descriptions of the reader, not of the text. They are readers’ self-descriptions. In the same way, those diagnostic terms are analysts talking about their conditions: that they are codependent, in therapy; that they are addicted and can’t stop; and that they are involved in narcissistic activity, which is called countertransference – they keep examining themselves about how they’re feeling about their patients.
Our “increasing mental sickness” may find expression in neurotic symptoms. These symptoms are conspicuous and extremely distressing. But let us beware, of defining mental hygiene as the prevention of symptoms.
Symptoms as such are not our enemy, but our friend; where there are symptoms there is conflict, and conflict always indicates that the forces of life which strive for integration and happiness are still fighting.
The really hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal.
Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does.
They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness.
These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted, still cherish “the illusion of individuality,” but in fact they have been to a great extent deindividualized.
Their conformity is developing into something like uniformity. But uniformity and freedom are incompatible. Uniformity and mental health are incompatible too. . . . Man is not made to be an automaton, and if he becomes one, the basis for mental health is destroyed.
Faiz Ahmad Faiz
A thinking child cannot conform. Thought does not bow to authority.
I have no particular love for the idealised ‘worker’ as he appears in the bourgeois Communist’s mind, but when I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on.