Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Frequent Contributor
JesseBC
Posts: 278
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : Women and Mental illness - Hysteria

Why are we obliged to understand their suicides?

Maybe Woolf had biochemical problems. Maybe she was driven crazy by the worldly constrictions of being female and a lesbian. Maybe she was misunderstood because she was so intelligent and creative. Maybe her husband really was abusing her. Maybe she was just a miserable person. Maybe she just didn't feel like living anymore and made a conscious decision to stop.

We never ask why Hunter Thompson killed himself. Or Gary Webb. Few even question Ernest Hemingway's contention that being labelled and treated for mental illness led him to want to kill himself (even though he was a raging alcoholic, most of his family killed themselves -- yet his bipolar diagnosis is considered "questionable" and he was granted a Catholic burial).

These men are granted the dignity of perfect lucidity right up to the moment they pulled the trigger. Their suicides are eulogized as quasi-rational, if tragic, actions. So why are women who kill themselves considered out of their minds by definition?

Perhaps I sound like I'm dismissing the mental health angle so I can stump for the feminist one, but I'm really only doing so for the sake of argument. The psyche and its illnesses have become a sort of dogma that it's impossible to question without being labelled a Scientologist (which I'm not, BTW, if it matters).

And there's a perverse idealism to this dogma that conceives of human nature as fundamentally mechanistic and dictates that broken (or at least non-conforming) machines can always be fixed with the proper regimen of pills and therapy.

So I don't think there's really anything wrong with asking why these writers killed themselves. I just think it's limiting to marry the mental health explanation and diagnose them posthumously.

For that matter, why not ask why so many non-conformist and creative people of both genders are so readily labelled crazy and/or dangerous to the social order?





Choisya wrote:
I agree there has been over diagnosis JesseBC and this extract from Wikipedia on the word 'hysteria' is very significant, especially the reference to Hippocrates' diagnosis (and the treatment of sexual dissatisfaction)!:-

'The term originates with the Greek medical term, hysterikos. This referred to a medical condition, thought to be particular to women, caused by disturbances of the uterus, hystera in Greek. The term hysteria was coined by Hippocrates, who thought that the cause of hysteria was due to the uterus wandering around the body in search of children. The same general definition, or under the name female hysteria, came into widespread use in the middle and late 19th century to describe what is today generally considered to be sexual dissatisfaction.[2] Typical "treatment" was massage of the patient's genitalia by the physician and later vibrators or water sprays to cause orgasm.[2] By the early 1900s, the practice and usage of the term had fallen from use until it was again popularized when the writings of Sigmund Freud became known and influential in Britain and the USA in the 1920s. The Freudian psychoanalytic school of psychology uses its own, somewhat controversial, ways to treat hysteria.'

However, if Woolf and Plath weren't 'ill', how do we account for their suicides? Do we just say that they were extremely unhappy?






JesseBC wrote:
I'm intrigued by the (mostly feminist) theories that some of these tragic 20th century female writers (Woolf, Plath, Teasdale, etc.) weren't really mentally ill (or at least not to the extent they're regarded as such), but were labelled with mental problems as a way of internalizing and essentially blaming them for the restricted nature of their lives that was making them miserable in the first place.

The implication is usually that women are still overdiagnosed as depressed, bipolar, etc., as a way of turning the gendered restrictions of their lives into something that's "all in your head" -- sexism isn't the problem; it's all biochemical...here, have a pill so you won't be tempted to question male privilege.

Any thoughts on those theories?

I can't imagine suggesting that the solution to misery would be having a baby (although, I personally know several women who have done just that -- it never seems to end well).






IlanaSimons wrote:
Wow! That is quite a load. What's work?
Virginia didn't have kids because doctors said it would unsettle her moods (she had what we'd diagnose as bipolar disorder today). Lots of fans since then have vehemently disagreed, arguing kids would have given her life a rounder meaning, a balance.
(I was at two baby showers today.)
What do you say about having kids: does it add to the sanity or the insanity quotient of your life?



SumayyaA wrote:
I am looking forward to joining this conversation this month - this will also be my first novel by Virginia Woolf. I am hoping I can keep up with the reading and conversation this time. (Having 3 young children and commuting 80 miles a day to and from work full-time has me lagging behind a bit).







Message Edited by Choisya on 04-03-200705:20 AM

Message Edited by Choisya on 04-03-200705:20 AM




Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : Women and Mental illness - Hysteria

[ Edited ]
I take your point but I make no distinction between male and female suicides - I think they are all worthy of consideration and understanding, whatever the reason for the unhappy act.




JesseBC wrote:
Why are we obliged to understand their suicides?

Maybe Woolf had biochemical problems. Maybe she was driven crazy by the worldly constrictions of being female and a lesbian. Maybe she was misunderstood because she was so intelligent and creative. Maybe her husband really was abusing her. Maybe she was just a miserable person. Maybe she just didn't feel like living anymore and made a conscious decision to stop.

We never ask why Hunter Thompson killed himself. Or Gary Webb. Few even question Ernest Hemingway's contention that being labelled and treated for mental illness led him to want to kill himself (even though he was a raging alcoholic, most of his family killed themselves -- yet his bipolar diagnosis is considered "questionable" and he was granted a Catholic burial).

These men are granted the dignity of perfect lucidity right up to the moment they pulled the trigger. Their suicides are eulogized as quasi-rational, if tragic, actions. So why are women who kill themselves considered out of their minds by definition?

Perhaps I sound like I'm dismissing the mental health angle so I can stump for the feminist one, but I'm really only doing so for the sake of argument. The psyche and its illnesses have become a sort of dogma that it's impossible to question without being labelled a Scientologist (which I'm not, BTW, if it matters).

And there's a perverse idealism to this dogma that conceives of human nature as fundamentally mechanistic and dictates that broken (or at least non-conforming) machines can always be fixed with the proper regimen of pills and therapy.

So I don't think there's really anything wrong with asking why these writers killed themselves. I just think it's limiting to marry the mental health explanation and diagnose them posthumously.

For that matter, why not ask why so many non-conformist and creative people of both genders are so readily labelled crazy and/or dangerous to the social order?





Choisya wrote:
I agree there has been over diagnosis JesseBC and this extract from Wikipedia on the word 'hysteria' is very significant, especially the reference to Hippocrates' diagnosis (and the treatment of sexual dissatisfaction)!:-

'The term originates with the Greek medical term, hysterikos. This referred to a medical condition, thought to be particular to women, caused by disturbances of the uterus, hystera in Greek. The term hysteria was coined by Hippocrates, who thought that the cause of hysteria was due to the uterus wandering around the body in search of children. The same general definition, or under the name female hysteria, came into widespread use in the middle and late 19th century to describe what is today generally considered to be sexual dissatisfaction.[2] Typical "treatment" was massage of the patient's genitalia by the physician and later vibrators or water sprays to cause orgasm.[2] By the early 1900s, the practice and usage of the term had fallen from use until it was again popularized when the writings of Sigmund Freud became known and influential in Britain and the USA in the 1920s. The Freudian psychoanalytic school of psychology uses its own, somewhat controversial, ways to treat hysteria.'

However, if Woolf and Plath weren't 'ill', how do we account for their suicides? Do we just say that they were extremely unhappy?






JesseBC wrote:
I'm intrigued by the (mostly feminist) theories that some of these tragic 20th century female writers (Woolf, Plath, Teasdale, etc.) weren't really mentally ill (or at least not to the extent they're regarded as such), but were labelled with mental problems as a way of internalizing and essentially blaming them for the restricted nature of their lives that was making them miserable in the first place.

The implication is usually that women are still overdiagnosed as depressed, bipolar, etc., as a way of turning the gendered restrictions of their lives into something that's "all in your head" -- sexism isn't the problem; it's all biochemical...here, have a pill so you won't be tempted to question male privilege.

Any thoughts on those theories?

I can't imagine suggesting that the solution to misery would be having a baby (although, I personally know several women who have done just that -- it never seems to end well).






IlanaSimons wrote:
Wow! That is quite a load. What's work?
Virginia didn't have kids because doctors said it would unsettle her moods (she had what we'd diagnose as bipolar disorder today). Lots of fans since then have vehemently disagreed, arguing kids would have given her life a rounder meaning, a balance.
(I was at two baby showers today.)
What do you say about having kids: does it add to the sanity or the insanity quotient of your life?



SumayyaA wrote:
I am looking forward to joining this conversation this month - this will also be my first novel by Virginia Woolf. I am hoping I can keep up with the reading and conversation this time. (Having 3 young children and commuting 80 miles a day to and from work full-time has me lagging behind a bit).




Message Edited by Choisya on 04-04-200709:47 AM

Frequent Contributor
piihonua
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎03-13-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : Women and Mental illness - Hysteria

I think the fact that Woolf's oeuvre prompts this type of discussion is living proof of her talent, her ability to convey complex messages about an individual's thoughts and feelings in such a concise manner. Remember, this book is less than 250 pages long, yet we know, perhaps even feel so much about her characters.
I enjoyed reading everyone's views and the fact that some chose to place the novel in its historical context in order to explain personal choices made by Woolf or her characters is also a way of working it out ourselves, untangling the reddish brown ball of yarn...
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator

[ Edited ]

JesseBC wrote:
I'm intrigued by the (mostly feminist) theories that some of these tragic 20th century female writers (Woolf, Plath, Teasdale, etc.) weren't really mentally ill (or at least not to the extent they're regarded as such), but were labelled with mental problems as a way of internalizing and essentially blaming them for the restricted nature of their lives that was making them miserable in the first place.

The implication is usually that women are still overdiagnosed as depressed, bipolar, etc., as a way of turning the gendered restrictions of their lives into something that's "all in your head" -- sexism isn't the problem; it's all biochemical...here, have a pill so you won't be tempted to question male privilege.

Any thoughts on those theories?




I am not familiar with any such theories to teh degree that I can discuss them but I think writing can add structure (as well as a sense of meaning) which is well needed in times of psychological upheaval . So IOW one aspect of their writing could have been how they kept themselves sane. En expression (written or painted) usually organizes the somewhat unruly and overwhelmingly chaotic thoughts.

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 04-05-200704:25 AM

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : VW and childbirth

[ Edited ]

JesseBC wrote: what you're saying suggests that depressed women make inferior mothers and I think that's too extreme as well.








Different people might react differently. I have a friend who's mother was depressed while he was a small child. It was almost impossible for him to establish and maintain a healthy contact with her (inspite of the fact that she was never hospitalized and was a stay home mom). This definitely influenced his ability to relate to women in general; he is still looking for that sort of confirmation in them that he was unable to receive from his mother. Her lack of interest in him and her inability to interact with him created a deep dent in his psyche even if he is fully functional as an individual. I do not think there is a rule to how individuals react, each may handle such situation differently. It also depends on many other factors how the child will react to a given situation.

However, I agree that a child is not a solution to a problem. A child has a right to a healthy support. Not all people get such support of course but to give birth for selfish reasons can't be the best option for the next generation: "We were born so that our mothers would feel great"....ahem.

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 04-05-200703:25 AM

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : Women and Mental illness - Hysteria



Choisya wrote: However, if Woolf and Plath weren't 'ill', how do we account for their suicides? Do we just say that they were extremely unhappy?








This idea can be easily attacked but let me say that all mental illness is a kind of unhappiness. Happy and content people do not commit suicide.

ziki
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
0 Kudos

woolf's writing


IlanaSimons wrote: She claimed her mood disorder fuelled her writing.




That might not be so far fetched after all. Expression means contact, both inwardly and outwardly and in order to cope she might have needed her writing to stabilize her.

ziki
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : Women and Mental illness - Hysteria



JesseBC wrote:smileyembarrassed:Maybe Woolf had biochemical problems. Maybe she was driven crazy by the worldly constrictions of being female and a lesbian. Maybe she was misunderstood because she was so intelligent and creative. Maybe her husband really was abusing her. Maybe she was just a miserable person. Maybe she just didn't feel like living anymore and made a conscious decision to stop.

---------
The way you put it here it coulda ctually be a combination of all those factors. And usually it is also the truth. One drop doesn't cause the bucket to overflow but the last drop will.

I do not think that we are obliged to understand their suicides. I think it is just the normal human curiosity. Mind's intention is to seek meaning no matter what and indeed at times that mechanism appears nothing but insane in itself.


For that matter, why not ask why so many non-conformist and creative people of both genders are so readily labelled crazy and/or dangerous to the social order?

The order and stability is often challenged by creative people, artists and scientists alike. The burgeois layer of population is/was upset by such implications of a possible new order that was unheard of (i.e. impressionists in France). The people who are comfortable with their money are not prone to risk much of it in order to loose what they already accumulated over the generations. They are simply conservative and call it a style, a proper way of behaving while they degrade others usually by very judgemental statements and attitudes. Many artists will of course challenge/upset their position and stale views.


ziki
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : Women and Mental illness - Hysteria

I agree.




ziki wrote:


Choisya wrote: However, if Woolf and Plath weren't 'ill', how do we account for their suicides? Do we just say that they were extremely unhappy?








This idea can be easily attacked but let me say that all mental illness is a kind of unhappiness. Happy and content people do not commit suicide.

ziki



Inspired Correspondent
Librarian
Posts: 483
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : Women and Mental illness - Hysteria

[ Edited ]
It has been said in other sources (can't remember any specific ones offhand) that some people are creative because of their mental illness. In another state of mind, they would not be able to create their novels, their paintings,their musical compositions, etc. This does not mean that you need to be mentally ill to be creative. But some people may not have produced their creations without mental illness. Any thoughts on this, anyone?
Librarian

Message Edited by Librarian on 04-05-200705:20 PM

Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : Women and Mental illness - Hysteria

Some of you may know Stephen Fry the English actor who played Oscar Wilde in the film? He is a very talented actor, something of a polymath and has a bi-polar disorder. He made a series about himself and that illness a little while ago, where he made the point that a lot of his creative times have been whilst he was ill and he also referred to other artists who were the same:-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/tv_and_radio/secretlife_documentary.shtml




Librarian wrote:
It has been said in other sources (can't remember any specific ones offhand) that some people are creative because of their mental illness. In another state of mind, they would not be able to create their novels, their paintings,their musical compositions, etc. This does not mean that you need to be mentally ill to be creative. But some people may not have produced their creations without mental illness. Any thoughts on this, anyone?
Librarian

Message Edited by Librarian on 04-05-200705:20 PM




Frequent Contributor
JesseBC
Posts: 278
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : VW and childbirth

That opening scene is a powerful one.

I didn't see clinical depression in it so much as a family utterly dependent on denial to service the myth that Everything Is OK -- a feature of middle-class families that's often parodied, except Woolf seems totally, painfully serious.

Since we're on the subject of depression, here's an interesting take on it from Barbara Ehrenreich's new book where she argues that depression is a feature of modernism: http://books.guardian.co.uk/extracts/story/0,,2048204,00.html





piihonua wrote:
I'm not sure where to post this message as it straddles the " The Windows" thread as well as this one but I wanted to mention the sense of entrapment,isolation,or claustrophobia as being a possible theme/themes in this novel.
Choisya's comment on severe depression seems to be inviting me to reply on this thread though. I think she's found an underlying as well as important message from Virginia which keeps surfacing in at least every other paragraph in "The Windows".
The novel opens in the drawing room with a scene of presumed "domestic bliss" only to have the high hopes of a six-year-old dashed by the gloating remark of his interfering father whom he(James) would have murdered with an axe if it were within reach.
How much darker can this scene get?How is Ramsay going to redeem himself after such an introduction? He's clearly not the author's hero. Mrs. Ramsay interjects with an"...I expect it will be fine...". I imagine it as a repeated reassurance of Virginia's mother,but I think it's packed with a pretty forceful punch albeit comforting comment she would make throughout her childhood and remained indelibly etched in her memory, long after the death of her mother.

I guess I'll take my comments on the theme to "The Windows" thread where it belongs.


Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : VW and childbirth



JesseBC wrote:
That opening scene is a powerful one.

I didn't see clinical depression in it so much as a family utterly dependent on denial to service the myth that Everything Is OK -- a feature of middle-class families that's often parodied, except Woolf seems totally, painfully serious.

Since we're on the subject of depression, here's an interesting take on it from Barbara Ehrenreich's new book where she argues that depression is a feature of modernism: http://books.guardian.co.uk/extracts/story/0,,2048204,00.html




On the other hand of the equation, there's the argument made by writers like Peter Kramer (Listening to Prozac) that depression cramps us more than it frees us--with a burden of low self-worth and sensitivity to criticism. He writes that when we're depressed, we sometimes cling to what we know, but people can actually discover more energy and even creativity when helped by antidepressants.



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


Melissa_W
Posts: 4,124
Topics: 516
Kudos: 966
Blog Posts: 3
Ideas: 15
Solutions: 33
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : Women and Mental illness - Hysteria

[ Edited ]
I think there is some truth to this. So many of the paintings we admire by Van Gogh were painted while he was suffering severe depression - would he have painted canvases like "Starry Night" if he were normal? Or Mozart his operas and trios?Probably not. Elizabeth Wurzel wrote two tremendous autobiographies, Prozac Nation and More, Now, Again about growing up with sever bipolar disorder and a substance abuse problem. I don't think her writing would have nearly the poignancy and feeling if she were simply writing about someone else's life instead of her first hand experiences of the illness. I think sometimes the illness affords a new perspective to the patient that those of us in the box of "normality" will never see. How that perspective is expressed is what makes the creative genius.



Librarian wrote:
It has been said in other sources (can't remember any specific ones offhand) that some people are creative because of their mental illness. In another state of mind, they would not be able to create their novels, their paintings,their musical compositions, etc. This does not mean that you need to be mentally ill to be creative. But some people may not have produced their creations without mental illness. Any thoughts on this, anyone?
Librarian

Message Edited by Librarian on 04-05-200705:20 PM



Message Edited by pedsphleb on 04-05-200710:12 PM

Message Edited by pedsphleb on 04-05-200710:13 PM

Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
balletbookworm.blogspot.com
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : VW and childbirth

I think VW's bi-polar disorder is well documented enough to be believed as a real illness but it is important not to think of 'blues' as true depression and I think the article is dealing more with that than true clinical depression. As someone who was hospitalised on and off for over five years with clinical depression, I can vouch for it being a real and totally debilitating illness, which no amount of dancing and jollity, communal or otherwise, could relieve.




JesseBC wrote:
That opening scene is a powerful one.

I didn't see clinical depression in it so much as a family utterly dependent on denial to service the myth that Everything Is OK -- a feature of middle-class families that's often parodied, except Woolf seems totally, painfully serious.

Since we're on the subject of depression, here's an interesting take on it from Barbara Ehrenreich's new book where she argues that depression is a feature of modernism: http://books.guardian.co.uk/extracts/story/0,,2048204,00.html





piihonua wrote:
I'm not sure where to post this message as it straddles the " The Windows" thread as well as this one but I wanted to mention the sense of entrapment,isolation,or claustrophobia as being a possible theme/themes in this novel.
Choisya's comment on severe depression seems to be inviting me to reply on this thread though. I think she's found an underlying as well as important message from Virginia which keeps surfacing in at least every other paragraph in "The Windows".
The novel opens in the drawing room with a scene of presumed "domestic bliss" only to have the high hopes of a six-year-old dashed by the gloating remark of his interfering father whom he(James) would have murdered with an axe if it were within reach.
How much darker can this scene get?How is Ramsay going to redeem himself after such an introduction? He's clearly not the author's hero. Mrs. Ramsay interjects with an"...I expect it will be fine...". I imagine it as a repeated reassurance of Virginia's mother,but I think it's packed with a pretty forceful punch albeit comforting comment she would make throughout her childhood and remained indelibly etched in her memory, long after the death of her mother.

I guess I'll take my comments on the theme to "The Windows" thread where it belongs.





Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : VW and childbirth

As a former sufferer, I agree. It is best not to make judgements about what people can or cannot do if they have severe depression, unless you have experienced it because in my opinion it is little understood by those who have not suffered from it. The 'snap out of it' approach is all too common by those who little understand the debilitating nature of the illness.




IlanaSimons wrote:


JesseBC wrote:
That opening scene is a powerful one.

I didn't see clinical depression in it so much as a family utterly dependent on denial to service the myth that Everything Is OK -- a feature of middle-class families that's often parodied, except Woolf seems totally, painfully serious.

Since we're on the subject of depression, here's an interesting take on it from Barbara Ehrenreich's new book where she argues that depression is a feature of modernism: http://books.guardian.co.uk/extracts/story/0,,2048204,00.html




On the other hand of the equation, there's the argument made by writers like Peter Kramer (Listening to Prozac) that depression cramps us more than it frees us--with a burden of low self-worth and sensitivity to criticism. He writes that when we're depressed, we sometimes cling to what we know, but people can actually discover more energy and even creativity when helped by antidepressants.



Frequent Contributor
JesseBC
Posts: 278
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : VW and childbirth

I was approaching it more from a "quit-blaming-Mom" perspective.

Moms take the rap for everything -- she's overprotective/she's underprotective; she's too smothering/she's too aloof; she goes to work/she stays at home; she wanted kids too much/she didn't want them enough; she's too permissive/she's too strict; she's divorced/she stayed in a bad marriage; and on and on and on.

Considering mothers can never do anything right and are held almost exclusively responsible for who their children become, it's really a wonder they aren't all depressed and neurotic.





ziki wrote:

JesseBC wrote: what you're saying suggests that depressed women make inferior mothers and I think that's too extreme as well.








Different people might react differently. I have a friend who's mother was depressed while he was a small child. It was almost impossible for him to establish and maintain a healthy contact with her (inspite of the fact that she was never hospitalized and was a stay home mom). This definitely influenced his ability to relate to women in general; he is still looking for that sort of confirmation in them that he was unable to receive from his mother. Her lack of interest in him and her inability to interact with him created a deep dent in his psyche even if he is fully functional as an individual. I do not think there is a rule to how individuals react, each may handle such situation differently. It also depends on many other factors how the child will react to a given situation.

However, I agree that a child is not a solution to a problem. A child has a right to a healthy support. Not all people get such support of course but to give birth for selfish reasons can't be the best option for the next generation: "We were born so that our mothers would feel great"....ahem.

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 04-05-200703:25 AM




Frequent Contributor
hasenbein
Posts: 99
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator

Can you get an audio version to help you keep up? 160 miles a day could be a lot of listening!

KathyH
Frequent Contributor
JesseBC
Posts: 278
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator : Women and Mental illness - Hysteria

I don't think it's "wrong," per se (this was Hemingway's claim, for example, and who am I to say he was wrong?) I just think it's still stuck in the same paradigm I'm objecting to.

Part of what I've been calling the dogma of the mental health paradigm is that it's entirely ontological.

In terms of mood, it presumes a baseline state of contentment. Deviance from this baseline state is considered internally pathological. In other words, if you aren't happy, there's something wrong with you.

It doesn't matter if you look at the world around you or your place in that world and decide it's unjust or perceive yourself as a misfit in your proscribed role -- your unhappiness is still deemed a problem whose roots lie in your brain. "It's your serotonin, stupid," even if you experience the problem to be your own dissatisfaction with being a housewife or a wage slave or whatever.

Theoretically (and often in practice), the final measure of mental health diagnostics is supposed to be whether or not you're "functional." If your mood varies from that baseline happiness, you may still be considered mentally ill, but, as long as you can "function" in your social role, then you're allowed to pretend that you're not.

The trouble is, "functionality" is a concept that's class-based and rooted in culture and the people making these diagnoses are almost exclusively upper-middle-class and educated. So, as a group, the diagnosers tend to have a fairly uniform, if well-intentioned, idea of what it looks like to be "functional" and what it means when a person is "not-functional."

To the extent that this has become dogmatic, the most common answer you'll probably hear is that it's so painful to be mentally ill (because you're "unhappy") that being creative is not a good trade-off and that the individual will, in fact, be MORE creative in treatment (because you'll be "functional"). In other words, Hemingway and the rest of them were simply wrong -- victims of a society that didn't understand the supremacy of mental health and it was just their craziness talking.

For the patient who accepts the supremacy of the paradigm (which is almost everyone these days), that answer might work. For those who hold out and insist that the problem isn't their brain, but rather that they're a misfit in their proscribed social role, then the dogma kicks in and they're labelled "in denial" and "resistant to treatment."

Thus there's a powerful incentive for accepting the diagnosis because, if you do, you're "more sane" than if you don't.

So to answer your original question...I don't know, but I don't believe anybody else does either. Would Woolf have been a more "functional" person if she'd lived in an era where her mood swings had a medical label and she'd been pumped full of lithium? Maybe. Maybe lithium would have meant she lived another 20 years and died of natural causes.

Or maybe it just would have meant she started writing happy stories about puppies and rainbows and that it's a fundamental mark of sanity and ego integrity to be able to insist that, no, the problem is NOT in my head; it really IS out there.

I don't know and I imagine it depends on the individual. But I think it's worth questioning.





Librarian wrote:
It has been said in other sources (can't remember any specific ones offhand) that some people are creative because of their mental illness. In another state of mind, they would not be able to create their novels, their paintings,their musical compositions, etc. This does not mean that you need to be mentally ill to be creative. But some people may not have produced their creations without mental illness. Any thoughts on this, anyone?
Librarian

Message Edited by Librarian on 04-05-200705:20 PM




Contributor
SumayyaA
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Welcome from your moderator

Thanks for the suggestion, Kathy. I really had not thought about that - I LOVE the actual act of reading, so listening to an audio book had not really crossed my mind. Maybe I will do a little of both for the next book.

Actually, I drive 80 miles round trip (which now sounds wonderful after I read 160 miles!) Maybe I don't have anything to complain about after all! :smileyhappy:
Users Online
Currently online: 71 members 746 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: