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Socialist Review, May 1994

Brin Price


Revolutionary treatment


From Socialist Review, No. 175, May 1994.
Copyright © Socialist Review.
Copied with thanks from the Socialist Review Archive.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Hazel Croft’s article Past Caring (April SR) was excellent and timely. However, as someone suffering from a ‘psychotic’ illness, I wish to add a further angle and to qualify the assertion that we are no longer ‘stigmatised by society and cast aside’.

It is true that ‘inadequate care’ results from underfunding, but in days when more money was spent on mental health it was part and parcel of a repressive ideology of psychiatry which still predominates.

It is not simply a question of more resources but also, as Hazel suggested, of the form of treatment. More funding could still mean more people labelled ‘psychotic’, more people detained unnecessarily, more locks, more chemical straitjackets, more unnecessary electric shocks and more tyrannical or incompetent doctors, psychologists, social workers and occasionally, I’m afraid, nurses.

In addition to the suffering caused by illness, I have endured blatant and unredressable discrimination. I lost first my job then my home; I have been threatened with being locked up for the rest of my life; I have been detained against my wishes and, by means of subtle intimidation, without due process of law; my request for psychotherapy, instead of ‘medication’, has been opposed on the grounds that it wouldn’t work, or would send me over the edge again (apparently I am not a person but a misfunctioning machine); my perception of truth has been denied or misinterpreted. I was first overwhelmed by, but now battle with, institutions that resemble those in a Kafka novel.

It is not just a matter of inadequate care by mental health services but also by society at large (those people who don’t want to sit near you on the tube train).

We need not only care but understanding or, if we are incomprehensible, respect because we are people with potential that is thwarted and who struggle against a particularly hostile and (often to us) incomprehensible world. It is not only us that need to be cured but also the reality that has afflicted us from birth. As this is a social reality, a somewhat revolutionary treatment is called for.


Brin Price

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