Justin Bieber: The new face of positive psychiatric labelling

I went for a walk today with my youngest son Taylor around our neighborhood. We looked at the Nantucket style houses that were recently built and we agreed that, while charming, the blue shingles didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the houses on the street, and we mulled over  that was a good thing since they did liven the neighborhood up a bit.

Taylor spotted a kid buzzing around the street on a bike with a Justin Bieber style hair cut, and we both laughed and agreed how much we like Justin Bieber, hair poof and all, because he is clueless and fun (remember his happy mug shot -Yo, check it out – I can’t believe I’ve been arrested!), he acts like many other clueless twenty-year olds despite his fame and fortune, and he’s generally nice to people.

We eventually got around to to talking about benzos, celebrity deaths, doctors with boring jobs, and psychiatry. “It seems to me that all psychiatrists do is tell people what’s wrong with them,” said Taylor. “Why don’t they instead start describing people by what’s right with them?” Taylor began to warm up to his idea. “Take Justin Bieber. Why not call him “wonderfully expressive and enthusiastic (mug shot)? Or, a true risk taker who likes to test his own limits (excessive drunken speeding in a residential neighborhood). How about just plain “boyish”? (Egging of neighbor’s house.) This is a whole paradigm shift. I can’t even think of what we would call the Bieb’s diagnosis because we are so used to negatives.”

The parents’ role in a medical setting

This applies to so many parents who insist that their child has a mental illness. 

From The Healing Paradox, by Steven Goldsmith, MD. 

“My agreement of her parents’ definition of it (anorexia nervosa) as an illness would have doomed treatment because only doctors’ definitions of it are supposed to be able to cure illnesses, and parents are supposed to hover over an ill child. Such a definition (anorexia nervosa) would have reinforced this family’s pathology and provided no leverage for change. Moreover, the label, like all conventional medical diagnoses, reflects Medicine’s attempt to isolate the disease as a discrete, namable entity as a thing, rather than a pattern of dysfunction and a disturbance of relationships. By doing so, Medicine minimizes its chances of effectively altering those relationships and curing the dysfunction.”

STEVEN GOLDSMITH received his MD at the Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons. In the last forty years he has practiced medicine, psychiatry, psychotherapy, and homeopathy and has held faculty and staff positions at the Boston University, Tufts University, and New York University Schools of Medicine. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he maintains a practice that emphasizes natural solutions for mental and physical illness.

Leonard Cohen’s 1970 European tour: “I want to play mental asylums”

Excerpt from Salon 

The politics, the police, and the frenzy exhausted Cohen. When the whole world was going mad, where did you go for shelter?
“I want to play mental asylums,” Cohen told Bob Johnston. The producer was no stranger to such requests; just two years earlier, Johnny Cash had approached him with the task of arranging a gig at Folsom Prison. But Cash had intended for his prison concert to be recorded and released as an album. Cohen seemed drawn to asylums for entirely personal reasons. He never explained them to Johnston or to the other members of his band. Four years later, speaking to a reporter, he recalled his request and suggested that the “experience of a lot of people in mental hospitals would especially qualify them to be a receptive audience for my work.”
In a sense, he continued, “when someone consents to go into a mental hospital or is committed he has already acknowledged a tremendous defeat. To put it another way, he has already made a choice. And it was my feeling that the elements to this choice, and the elements of this choice, and the elements of this defeat, corresponded with certain elements that produced my songs, and that there would be an empathy between the people who had this experience and the experience as documented in my songs.”
On August 28, the Army drove up to the Henderson Hospital, just south of London; “it was all talking therapy,” a former nurse at the hospital told Cohen biographer Sylvie Simmons, “no medication, no ‘zombies.’” Cohen was led up to the institution’s imposing and narrow tower, where his impromptu performance would take place. “Oh boy,” he told Johnston as they made their way in, “I hope they like ‘So Long, Marianne.’” Most of those in attendance were young, and many were Leonard Cohen fans. The band quickly set up, and Cohen took his place at the front of the makeshift stage, underneath one of the “tall, narrow windows that gave the room the feel of a chapel.” He looked at the audience. “There was a fellow I spoke to last night,” he said, “a doctor. I told him I was coming out here. He said, ‘They are a tough bunch of young nuts.’” There was some applause, and Cohen started playing “Bird on the Wire.” But then he stopped. “I feel like talking,” he said. “Someone warned me downstairs that all you do here is talk. That’s psychotic, it’s contagious.”
During 80 minutes, he played only 11 songs. The rest of the time, he told the audience about his relationship with Marianne and how it had dissipated, about how “You Know Who I Am” was written after taking 300 acid trips and “One of Us Cannot Be Wrong” was composed while coming down from amphetamine, about the Chelsea Hotel and life in New York and making love and sharing lovers and feeling inconsolably sad. Each time he finished a song or a speech, the audience applauded rapturously.
And then it was time to leave. “I really wanted to say that this is the audience that we’ve been looking for,” Cohen said as the Army was packing up to go. “I’ve never felt so good playing before people.”
Adapted from “A Broken Hallelujah: Rock n Roll, Redemption and the Life of Leonard Cohen” by Liel Leibovitz. Published by W.W. Norton and Company. Copyright 2014 by Liel Leibowitz. All rights reserved.