Please read Ron Unger’s latest post Anatomy of a Delusion, based on his reading of Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic. He writes:
What I am struck by is the similarity between the dynamics around the delusions of those who get psychiatric labels, and the delusions of the mental health system itself.
His post then lists some really good delusions of the mental health system which are also uncannily similar to the delusions of mental health clients. This is Ron Unger writing at his usual best. Here’s number 4 on his list of delusions invested in by the client, which is darn similar to the delusion of the mental health system vis a vis medication, when you think about it.
Even starting to question the delusion is scary & upsets psychological equilibrium, as even considering that one might have been so wrong about something creates a sense of “losing one’s grip on reality.” This loss of equilibrium when one starts to question the delusion is taken as evidence that it should not be questioned.
Whitaker in his book, writes about the young woman/old hag optical illusion. This is the drawing that most of us are familar with that shows a young woman, if you look at the drawing one way, and an old hag if you focus on it another way. Whitaker is writing about it more in terms of a perceptual illusion in which the public prefers to believe that psychiatric drugs produce outcomes like the beautiful young woman, but he writes that a closer look will reveal what the public doesn’t see – long term use of psychiatric drugs reveals the old hag, an different picture.
The young woman/old hag drawing is also useful in explaining how illusions/delusions can quickly turn to disillusion when it comes to psychiatric medication. Seeing the beautiful young woman is the illusion that I invested in the first couple of years of Chris’s “illness.” Gradually, disillusionment set in and and I finally was able to see the old hag. Both are there, if you look for them, but once you have seen the hidden perception, it is hard to regain the original image. Now, trying to recapture the beautiful young woman image is almost impossible for me. I know she’s supposed to be there, but I don’t see her.