Old Yiddish Saying: When things come in threes, it is likely they are blogworthy
Yes, I made that uptherapydoc
I’m riding my bike to work, pass a woman in her ninth month talking to herself. Surely she has a Bluetooth in her ear, but from my angle she really looks like she's talking to herself.
And just last week, after shopping, loading groceries into the trunk of my car, a friendly young man parked next to me remarks with a huge smile:
“I swear, I thought you had some kind of mental disorder, talking to yourself like that in the store. I thought,That's reassuring. Not suffering from schizophrenia, just on the phone. Thanks for your concern?
Someone should tell her kids! Do they even know!?'
Then I watched you, kind of followed you a bit, and I could see that you were okay, that you had to have been on the phone."
When I was a teenager, a mobile phone, or "communicator," was something that Spock used to reach McCoy, the stuff of science fiction, the technology of Star Trek. Off television, however, even to an untrained mental health observer, an animated conversation with an invisible other someone, indicated psychosis. Something very wrong.
And it was a little scary, seeing that psychosis, for every once in awhile a person is going to see a naked person in the middle of the street, or someone walking, gesticulating wildly who is not on the phone. We are afraid of this because intuitively, we tend to be afraid of what we don't understand.
The irony is that the person with a psychotic disorder can be much more afraid, more anxious, fearful of invisible dangers, the voices speaking only to him, shrieking, spewing hate and rage, negativity. And under the influence of fear, like most of us under stress, that person is capable of lashing out, usually to self-protect.
A couple of summers ago, riding home from work, I caught the eye of a woman walking toward me. She was on the sidewalk wearing mismatched brightly colored clothing. (I'm drawn to bright colors like a moth to a light.) When she sees me looking at her she flashes a ferocious glare; I feel the fire. Then she spits as far as she can, misses me by a foot. Violent psychic energy, aggression. Strike first.
Believe me, as soon as I caught that look in her eye, differential diagnoses were clear in my head. I didn't need a DSM.
A person with severe mental illness who is lashing out violently is more often than not doing so in self-defense. She might even be hearing threatening voices. Tell everyone or you will die! Show the world! Make a difference! You scum, prodigy of scum, you filthy human! Show your worth! Very rough on the sense of self, having your thoughts interrupted. Most of us have trouble with our negative thoughts. Magnify that intensity by fifty or a hundred. That's how it is with very severe illness.
And we do have to be better at recognizing this, befriending people who are suffering, finding them resources.
James J. Lee, the gentleman who marched into the Discovery Channel building in Silver Spring, Maryland last week, had explosives on his person. He listed his demands on a blog. He demanded that the Discovery Channel agree to change its programming, that the station become more environmentally sensitive, more green, more inventive, proactive about population control. He thought humans filthy, babies the ultimate source of destructive pollution, the giraffes, the lions, benign. From his blog:
Humans are the most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around and are wrecking what's left of the planet with their false morals and breeding culture.
. . . It is the responsiblity of everyone to preserve the planet they live on by not breeding any more children who will continue their filthy practices. Children represent FUTURE catastrophic pollution whereas their parents are current pollution. NO MORE BABIES! Population growth is a real crisis. Even one child born in the US will use 30 to a thousand times more resources than a Third World child. It's like a couple are having 30 babies even though it's just one! If the US goes in this direction maybe other countries will too!
Also, war must be halted. Not because it's morally wrong, but because of the catastrophic environmental damage modern weapons cause to other creatures. FIND SOLUTIONS JUST LIKE THE BOOK SAYS! Humans are supposed to be inventive. INVENT, DAMN YOU!!
In therapy we might say, You sound angry.
Most of us don't need a prophet to know that our world is in trouble. The heat wave across these past two months should tell us something.
Back to our Neo-Yiddish, the threes. We have:
(1) Many of us seeing schizophrenia everywhere, or so it seems, like new psych students who have just learned about different psychotic disorders,
(2) Some of us impulsively labeling James J. Lee soon after the Discovery Channel lock-down last week. It was suggested, in that short post, that students study his blog, Save the Planet Protest, and the news stories that unwittingly review the variables that perhaps contributed to his last selfless act, for he was gunned down before he hurt anyone, i.e., homelessness.
Down came the post before most of you read it, for after all, James J. Lee's disorder did not have to be schizophrenia. He might have suffered from a different psychosis. The blogger feared activists and nihilists who might misinterpret remarks, and she had no emotional energy to argue. The psychic energy that can be characteristic of psychosis, untreated, is remarkable. The psychic energy that can be devoted to a cause, not all that dissimilar-- without a psychotic disorder. No need for resistance exercises at the gym.
Mr. Lee will be remembered, at least by me, as the Angry Prophet of Doom.
Then, a few hours after taking down the post, I called a friend for book suggestions, started reading (3) One Thousand White Women, The Journals of May Dodd. Libraries are full of good things.
What is this? One Thousand White Women is a novel by Jim Fergus about life in the United States in 1876 (really 1854). The Cheyenne, determined to make peace with urban sprawl and the pollution of white men, offered Ulysses S. Grant an option for assimilating the red-faced with the pale-faced.
Suffice it to say that it is a biological solution and I just can't spoil it for you. I just started the book, but it is captivating and very funny. And then there's this quote!
Little Wolf, the Sweet Medicine Chief , is speaking to a specially appointed commission of Congress on behalf of the Cheyenne:
The People are a small tribe, smaller than either the Sioux or the Arapaho; we have never been numerous because we understand that the earth can only carry a certain number of the People, just as it can only carry a certain number of the bears, the wolves, the elks, the pronghorns, and all the rest of the animals. For if there are too many of any animal, this animal starves until there is the right number again. We would rather be few in number and have enough for everyone to eat, than be too many and all starve.He goes on to say that for this reason his children must become members of the white man's tribe, thus offers his modest proposal.
His ideas about population growth, actually, are not all that different from Mr. Lee's.
So what makes Little Wolf an environmentalist and Mr. Lee a person suffering from schizophrenia, a man who just thought he was an environmentalist?
Little Wolf contains his anger, is very controlled, even when the men on Capital Hill practically throw him and his entourage on a train back west, rejecting his amazing suggestion. He's tried to be empathetic, to give the white man the benefit of the doubt. He is educable, this white man. An empath, Little Wolf is highly evolved.
The Sweet Medicine Chief reaches out to a culture clearly foreign to him, a people who leave a wake of upheaval and destruction, who ravage fields and the habitat; a people out of touch with the balance of nature, uninterested in learning, particularly, capable, the Cheyenne believe, of empathy and change.
Quite a book.
Unfortunately, without that-- lose empathy, lose the ability to intuit the feelings of others, and lose the sensitivity it takes to look within, to see the enemy inside, rather than blame, and we're all clueless, out of touch. Or more to the point, sick like James J. Lee, spewing hatred and negativity on his blog in an insular psychotic rage.
We don't know if Mr. Lee had been treated for the illness, or even if he heard voices. We don't know and never will, probably, if anyone told him to call attention to the problem of population growth and the destructive nature of human beings, or not. But he probably had it, 295.30, Schizophrenia, Paranoid Type. A tough disorder to live with, or another delusional psychosis.
I know it like in the same way that I know why that woman spat at me when our eyes met.
And what that means, I guess, is that as a society we've got to be doing more to recognize and help people who have mental illness. No, I don't know how. But we've got to try to do more.
Lee's website: http://www.savetheplanetprotest.com
And the Discovery Channel, Discovery Communications