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Tequila_Wolf wrote (edited )

Some thoughts, all of which contribute to my own view, which amounts to a very firm critique of 'mental illness' as a capitalist creation:

Agreeing generally with Situationist Raoul Vaneigem when he says, "There is no such thing as mental illness. It is merely a convenient label for grouping and isolating cases where identification has not occurred properly. Those whom Power can neither govern nor kill, it taxes with madness."

With backup from Foucault in his various books on 'madness' as a form of control, and the scientific episteme behind them being subject to significant critique,

Along with the various other poststructuralist critiques of it all (poststructuralism has a lot in common with anarchism, I think, but that's for another topic)

As well as parts of Guattari and the anti-psychiatry movement.

And even with people like Thomas Szatz and his anti-authoritarian book The Myth of Mental Illness there is interesting stuff to be found. My thought is it is not good to talk about 'mental illness' in terms of a medical model at all.

If you're sad all the time we should not assume anything is wrong with you, only that the world is shit and you are appropriately aware of that. The various sets of assumptions that make up a world in which 'mental illness' exists must be destroyed. And I think it is an anarchist assumption that being normative about how people should be is fundamentally problematic.

Rather, let's talk about our emotions, how we feel about them, where they come from, in concrete terms, instead of in terms of abstractions or problems that need 'fixing' - which really amounts to 'making yourself a more productive member of the capitalist economy'. Rather we ask people what they want to change, and if there is room gently show them that maybe making yourself ok with/by being a drone is not going to make you better at smashing capitalism. (This is not to say that people like feeling shit, or that they must, just that we must go about overcoming our problems without using the fake solutions provided by capitalism)

So, if we were to make a forum for it, I would hope it was called something more like f/Emotional_Wellbeing and not f/Mental_Illness, and that it would be for supporting people through their shit if they ask for the support, but not for 'fixing' or 'normalising' anybody, in a very radical way.


josefStallman wrote

I'd like to preface this by saying that I'm not really qualified to talk about this. I know electronic brains, not human ones, so anything I say here is going off of the experience I've had as someone who would call themselves mentally ill, and is currently being treated for it, as well as being around a lot of people who have similar stories, if not to a much greater degree.

I'm not sure I agree with this. In fact, I don't think I agree with this at all. I'm sure a lot of people who are depressed are depressed because of the capitalist system; because of class society and being marginalized because of it, because they have to worry about where their food comes from, because a million problems are always happening and no one knows what's going to go wrong tomorrow. That kind of environment is going to cause a lot of problems. Maybe by removing that environment and solving a lot of those problems, we can make a lot of people a lot less depressed.

However, positing that mental illness is just something that's been made up by people who want to use it to control people and generate profit seems incredibly insensitive to people who have legitimate disabilities like PTSD or bipolar disorder or any number of other illnesses I don't have a good enough understanding of to speak on. Any number of traumatic experiences, entirely unrelated to anything we want to end, can cause mental illness (depression resulting from the loss of a close friend of family member, one I know all too well) Not to mention the mental illnesses that can be caused directly by physical forces: depression resulting from concussions, for example.

I know my being upset about the overall state of the world is a relatively new reason for my depression. My parents were just kind of shitty. Which isn't their fault, because they had just had me after losing their first son, which caused them all kinds of problems. My point being, their problems were entirely unrelated with the overall state of society, and had a lot more to do with an unhealthy reaction to a much less global environmental factor, which did a lot more than make them just less productive workers.

I'm not opposed to something like /f/Emotional_Well-being, which is why I suggested /f/mentalhealth instead of /f/mentalillness. I think a forum for people who are feeling down because of the current state of affairs is fine, and that falls under mental health. I just would never suggest that mental illness is an entirely sociological or societal issue and to do so feels dismissive at best.


Tequila_Wolf wrote (edited )

I'm no expert either, this is just my thoughts as a person who has been interested in these things very intensely from an anarchist and liberatory perspective for some time. I also expect it will be more than most are willing to accept.

I don't think people don't experience terrible sadness or have other intense and unpleasant relationships to their emotions, or that these experiences would completely go away if there was no capitalism.

I don't think that we can understand anything as entirely sociological or societal either, I probably wasn't clear enough.

I do think that what we understand as 'mental illness' is a fundamentally capitalist construct that seeks to make people 'normal' - where 'normal' means 'greasing the gears of capitalism,' and often means, 'just coping enough to keep the economy going'. This is not a negative judgement on people who are suffering so badly that they choose the only avenues for well-being that they know. This is about a questioning of the funamental assumptions of capital and the making of subjectivity under capitalism.

This is not to say that we won't be able to develop a better understanding of liberatory emotional wellbeing in a systematic way. People are trying to do that all the time. And it's probably the case that we can use a lot of the language of ability to do the work we need to do (I think that's fine, I also think that disability is an identification and not an objective condition).


aiwendil wrote

I would mostly agree with this, but I do think mental illness exists. Like many people are having anomalous experiences that are difficult to cope with, whether they would exist in a capitalist society or not, but I would argue that it is a much smaller group than those we've officially labelled mentally ill as a way to strip them of their rights in many cases(take California's rediculous 5150 policies, where a doctor never has to see you for you to get institutionalized and loose some of your rights).

For the small group of people having truly difficult to cope with experiences of the world, Schizophrenic people, severely Bi-Polar people(not by the diagnoses criteria people seem to think is legit, like generic moodiness, but manic states that truly break from reality) and people with Major Depression, these are all brought on in a lot of cases by the stress of living in a Capitalist society. In studies done on schizophrenia, rates are much higher in our cities, which in America are the centers of commerce, very much hyper capitalist zones(

As somebody that suffers from Major Depression, I can honestly say that I find it to be correlated to living in our society. I feel consistently disappointed by the way I have to live currently in order to avoid being targeted by authorities. I don't feel like I can amount to anything being chained down by capitalism. I think I have done a lot of interesting and good work in my life, but almost all of it was done for nothing(which in a capitalist society means that it has no value). I feel that I have no value to anybody that I live around and that thought process contributes to me feeling depressed most of the time. Most people assume that these feelings are internal and can be changed, but I think that my depression is related mostly to external things that I cannot change, nor can I cope with them. This is all anecdotal and not scientific, but that is how I feel about it.

I do think a lot of mental illness is preventable in how we structure society and a lot of it is totally mis-diagnosed nonsense. When I was a difficult teen, I was diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder, which the DSM describes as somebody that is resistant to deferring to authority. That seems like a really convenient thing to institutionalize. I was also diagnosed with ADD, though I had no trouble concentrating on things I was interested in, for example, I taught myself how to program and even though I skipped a lot of school I did well in Math and Science classes, often significantly better than guidance counselors expected. If I didn't like a teacher or didn't care about the material, I just didn't do the assignments. So I personally think those were bullshit diagnoses meant to be an excuse to drug me up and make me easier to control. I hated how clouded the meds made me feel, so I just refused to take them, or put them under my tung. Again, this bit is all anecdotal, but that has been my relationship to mental illness.

I totally agree that if we talk to each other and support each other, we could realistically do away with the entire mental health apparatus that is designed to keep us complacent. We should have an emotional wellbeing sub, though I don't see the harm in a mental illness sub also for people really struggling with illness. We don't have to fix or normalize anybody, we can accept that capitalism made us this way and there may not be fixing it now, but for people like myself, I would like to change how I live to mitigate the effects that capitalism has on my mental health.

I don't see capitalism going away any time soon, but we can learn to live on the fringes of it more frequently, which can go a long way in making one feel significantly better.

I hope this makes sense. I think we agree more than disagree here, but I do think we need to keep room for people who are seriously struggling, because that is real and they need as much support as somebody experiencing physical traumas.


Tequila_Wolf wrote (edited )

We do mostly agree, I think! I dunno :)

I'd be ok with a forum around emotional stuff that is based on the site u/amongstclouds linked to in this thread.

But maybe it could be part of something broader, too, like f/Mutual_Aid. I dunno either.



So, correct me if I'm wrong here, you believe that mental illness, something that has been around since before the invention of capitalism, and what I suffer from, does not exist?

I'm not trying to come off as a jerk, but this sounds like something that people who go "Oh man, weed is all you need to not want to kill yourself! Throw away your pills, man!"