Thursday, 25 July 2013

Who is the Real You?

I am still exercised by my recent foray into the underworld of psychiatry. Nowadays words such as 'mad' ‘insane’, ‘crazy’ and ‘lunatic’ refer to an extreme state of mind embedded in pathology, where the disintegration of our mental state causes the individual to manifest behaviour that is habitual, compulsive, maladaptive and anti~social.  

The above words are generally avoided as classifications of mental states in favour of  a broader classification of personality disorders which cover a range of dysfunctionality, including specific diagnosis of mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar. 

But who and where is the real person behind these medical classifications? How did they get here? Can they ever be reclaimed? Is what’s going on with Dean nature or nurture or both?

All children are indoctrinated by what they learn from significant adults in their lives – whether these adults are in government, churches, or in the home. They act out, or dramatize the terror held in their unconscious which the ego cannot contain. They do what their elders have done and continue to do.They kill indiscriminately; they kill because another person has something they want. They kill innocent people who have done no harm, just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We call this collateral damage.

Millon notes that in the antisocial personality “badness and madness” seem to converge to the extent that “sometimes antisocial crimes are so incomprehensible and morally repugnant that the act alone makes us doubt their sanity.” [1]

We all know and meet every day apparently normal people whom we might describe in the following terms:

Quick to counterattack and react with anger to perceived insults.
           
Bear grudges and are unwilling to forgive the insults, injuries or slight that they think they have received.  Minor slights rouse major hostility.

Need to have a high degree of control over those around them... 

Often rigid, critical of others, and unable to collaborate, although they have great difficult accepting criticism themselves. 

Tend to develop negative stereotypes of others, particular those from population groups distinct from their own.

The above actually describes the paranoid personality in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM).  Those labelled as paranoid are usually medicated and often incarcerated, but it takes little stretch of the imagination to identify the above characteristics among apparently ‘normal’ or ‘sane’ people on the streets and in all society’s institutions. Perhaps madness is a perquisite to being human.

It was Professor Flora Rheta Schreiber who located the origins of dissociative identity disorder (known then as multiple personality disorder) in trauma. Her ground breaking book Sybil was published in 1973. Sybil’s sixteen personalities emerged one day to introduce themselves to her psychiatrist. 

Houston writes ‘if schizophrenia is the disease of the human condition then polyphrenia, the orchestration and integration of our many selves may be the health…If we can only recognise and encourage the healthy development and orchestration of our various selves, we will avoid much incipient neurosis and pathology.’[2]  


[1]Millon (ed). Personality Disorders in Modern Life
[2] Houston, Jean. In Search of the Beloved

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