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  • Category Archives Mental Illness
  • Mental Advent

    A parody of advent, for people who the church wished didn’t exist.

    Week 1: The Empowerment Candle –  Hope is great but without power it usually just melts away.  For example if you are in an abusive or exploitative situation, having power is what counters these people and buys one hope.  Even being able to believe in religion is a form of power because you need to play cognitive tricks to pretend there is a god there that loves you and get the placebo response from these practices which sustain you.

    Week 2: The Ativan Candle – The times I felt the most peace were when I was on the anti anxiety drug Ativan.  People bemoan the fact that so many people are hooked on drugs and alcohol but there’s a reason for this.  They work!  Religion can work for some people but requires a lot of brain power, an acrobatic act of holding on and letting go, that is out of reach for a lot of people, especially those with mental illnesses.

    Week 3: The Mania Candle –  Joy is great too but is just a weasel word that, when pressed, Christians admit doesn’t mean anything even close to happiness or pleasure.  The only time I experienced the Holy Spirit moving was when I was manic so I think mania should get a better hearing.

    Week 4: The Significant Other Candle – Because the culture is so hyper individualistic often a significant other is your only true friend (this is particularly true if you are male).  Obviously love is harder to come by the less healthy you are but even bad relationships should be celebrated because people are reaching out and trying.  Of course this day you should celebrate looking good and making a lot of money because these are so important in finding love.


  • On Grunge

    Piece on grunge and the death of Chris Cornell:

    You might think grunge is about anger, but that’s not completely true. Yes, it can sound that way, but it’s really about depression and cynicism. Those two go hand-in-hand, along with their nasty little sister, anxiety. When the three of them get going, they just eat hope as quickly as it can be summoned. That leaves despair and despair is exhausting, not just for those who experience it, but for the people around it as well. So we keep it to ourselves because we don’t want to be a burden. And then it gets to be too much. Doesn’t matter if you’re a student, a mom, an accountant or a rock star. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written about it your entire life as a means of keeping it at bay. It doesn’t matter if the music you made about it brought in fame, respect and millions of dollars. It doesn’t matter if your entire generation has suffered from it. Depression makes you feel totally alone. You hit the breaking point, and then, like Chris Cornell, you die alone in the bathroom.

  • Brain as Computer Revisited

    I think modern psychology has latched on to the brain as computer model of the brain and do their detriment.  It’s an easy thing to fall into.  A computer has an operating system, files, and programs.  As long as everyone has the same operating system, programs will work seamlessly on any computer you try to run them on.  Therapies seem to presuppose this brain uniformity and when one doesn’t have a brain like this they’re left not knowing what to do.  For example some therapies try to strengthen one’s positive voice in their inner monologue.  But what if they don’t have a positive voice to begin with?  Therapies claim to work seamlessly on all brains (at least ones acculturated to western values).  But the brain is messy, there is no operating system/programs/files trifecta.  I know my experience has been just tearing apart the things therapists tell me, clearly seeing them as false.  But for some people believing what makes them feel good is preferable to believing what is factual.  But my brain doesn’t play that way, especially because eventually wishful thinking will bite you in the butt.  There is some understanding in the psychology profession that therapies aren’t supercultural and that’s a good start.  But even within western culture there is such variation from brain to brain.

    I actually think the brain is more organized like a regime.  Depending on where in the world you go there can be many types of regimes.  Democracies, dictatorships, failed states, tribal power sharing arrangements, etc..  sometimes it’s better to work with the patterns of thinking that are already there than try to go full on and try to throw them all out.  Just like it’s not a good idea to forcibly change regimes in the Middle East.

    See original post

  • Cognitive Dissonance

    Cognitive dissonance is experienced as anguish by most Christians.  That’s why they hate engaging people with disabilities.  It’s like we need and orange sign in front of us that says, “prayer doesn’t work zone”.  They have to compartmentalize and divide prayers between the ones that will work and the ones that won’t. Mental illness brings an additional wrinkle into it as now often the voice of God is often telling people crazy shit.

  • How?

    When Christians ask me, “how do you do it without God?”, I respond with, “I ask myself that same question”.  This outs what they really mean, “how do you do it without religion?”.  It’s just assumed that religion will somehow put you in communication with God which is over assuming.  It never put me in communication with God, when I wasn’t psychotic.

  • The laws of thermodynamics never fail, even the least of us

    Imagine if you got on a plane and the pilot was on the spectrum.  Then they had to get a new pilot, not because the pilot wasn’t skilled and talented enough to fly the plane, but—because of his autism—the laws of thermodynamics wouldn’t work in such a way that the plane would fly.  That would be ridiculous.  But that describes our relationship with God and religion pretty perfectly.  Because of the way our brains our wired we have a hard to impossible time interacting with the divine.  Which begs the question, if there were a god wouldn’t he be equally accessible to everyone (the same way the law of thermodynamics is), regardless of their brain configuration?

    I find science is a safe space for me because it functions uniformly regardless of brain configuration.  A night when I was completely out of my mind (would be heading to the mental hospital the next day) I picked up an old school Game Boy Color and played some Tetris.  I was trying to test whether I had gotten a lot better at it, to match what my delusions of grandeur were telling me.  In that moment in that game it was shown that I wasn’t any better.  I was just as bad as usual.  Tetris was being the scientific objective voice I needed (God, on the other hand, was telling me all kinds of crazy shit).

    Religion didn’t always involve the brain being front and center and then it was probably easier for autistics to be involved in it.  But as people have amassed more of a sense of self and the promises of interaction with the divine go grander and grander, the brain has taken center stage.

  • Mental Health and Christianity

    Great comment on a thread on the Ex-Christian subreddit asking why Christians are so uptight about Mental Health treatment:

    Because a mental illness is essentially an illness of the consciousness, which is what people probably mean when they talk about a soul. So in that regard, mental health is basically spiritual health and that’s supposed to be God’s job. Seeking help elsewhere is basically saying that a good God is doing his job badly. A kind of action-implied blasphemy. I’ve literally heard my aunt say “there’s no way you can actually be depressed when you have Jesus in your life”. Not knowing, of course, that it’s something I was struggling with. :/

    It’s gotta be a holdover from when illnesses like epilepsy and schizophrenia were understood as demon possession. (perhaps also, ironically, as gifts of prophecy?)