How did we come to place great faith in mental health ‘tests’ and has the end of time already begun?

My ideas are slowly coming together. I think I’ve worked out some methods to build the main players in the scenes I intend to create. It is going to be rather time consuming. There will be lots of characters, too many to mention now.

In the story there will be two psychiatrists.

I’ve found various books on psychiatry that I think will help me begin to build the character of these two fictional medical professionals. If might be assumed passages of the book copied below might be the words of the good psychiatrist, that is not necessarily the case. I have a feeling that much of what is written in that book is going to be generally in line with what I currently believe about psychiatry.

But in the story I am to write down, just because a character has opinions about things that I agree with, it does not necessarily make him one of the ‘good guys’. There are other books I will be reading by psychiatrists that I might generally disagree with regarding matters of the mind, but that does not mean that the character those opinions help inspire will be a ‘bad guy’ in my story.

Even though it seems likely that the story will be set in fictional places mainly based in English, Welsh and Irish locations that I have lived in or have foggy memories of, there is a chance that I will set the story (or significant parts of it) in places I’ve never been , in the USA, in fictional parts of a mid-western State not unlike Wisconsin.

I have recently re-watched a film called ‘Once upon a time in the West’, a movie which I really hope I can see on the ‘big screen’ one day. I used to dislike Westerns as a child, but my mind changed several years ago after the films of Sergio Leone put some kind of a spell on me. It coincided with me taking a big interest in American folk music, bluegrass, blues, country music etc..

After watching Once Upon a Time in the West a couple of mornings ago, I then watched it again with ‘Commentary’ by various directors, writers and actors. I learned a lot about how many of the scenes were inspired by other Westerns. ‘John Ford’ was a name that came up quite a lot. I am just going to copy out some of the movie titles in my mini-notebook:

The Big Silence
The Searchers
High Noon
The Iron Horse
The Professionals
Rio Brava
Johnny Guitar

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Run of the Arrow
Winchester ’73
A Big Hand for the Little Lady
The Ballad of Cable Hogue

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance I have definitely watched before, a few times. I paid no mind before as to the name of the director. I have a feeling that I might be familiar with quite a few John Ford films already, but am just not aware of the film titles, yet.

My story’s narrator is going to take a pessimistic view on ‘progress’ and the people it leaves behind with barely a thought or care from optimist types who trample and build over the human achievements of the past in the name of monetary gain.

My narrator is either going to be a delusion/voice inside the mind of the main character of the story or the narrator will be who he claims to be. If the reader thinks the narrator is a delusion then the story will probably be a tragedy or comedy. If reader imagines the narrator to be real (in the context of the story), then it might very well be a story of death and hope, the sort of death and hope that “a person of faith”, especially a Christian, might like or at least find to be usefully thought-provoking. I doubt I’m explaining myself very well here. It doesn’t matter very much at this stage.

So much more patience is needed. The story will probably mix fiction with reality. How to explain in a few words? …. It might be written in the form of a biography and collection of badly written essays and poems of mine.. It will contain quotes from real writers etc.. all the footnotes will contain references to real books, poems, songs, essays etc. too.

If I do not write it in this way, the naked story would probably be seen as merely the product of a crazy creative plagiarist. I would prefer the author to have a chance of being seen as just a plain old crazy creative. So much more patience is needed. I know what it is I intend to do, and have a good idea of how to do it. Now for the hard part.. educating myself to a level way beyond my current imagination (with the unsuspecting aid of many past and present writers, artists and musicians, friends, family and acquaintances.) It’s going to take a while. I believe it is possible. But accept that I may never reach my ultimate goal.

(The story I write is mainly going to draw inspiration from my imagination and the works of authors and artists etc. published/produced prior to 2001 A.D.)

To the book I’m currently reading.. The first chapter of a book published in 1984 “The Reign of Error: psychiatry, authority, and law.” by Lee Coleman.

When the Chicago police started to arrest Robert Friedman for panhandling in front of a downtown bus station on August 2, 1975, he pleaded, “Don’t take me in. I’m not broke. I didn’t know this was a crime.” He opened his briefcase and revealed to the officers $24,087 in small bills. “A few days later,” according to a report by the Associated Press, “he was committed to a mental institution by a judge who said he was protecting Friedman from thugs who might be after his cash.”
Thugs never got Friedman’s cash, but psychiatry did. He was forced to pay for his incarceration in a psychiatric hospital, and even had to pay the fees for the lawyer who convinced the judge to lock him up. Twelve thousand dollars later, Friedman was finally able to get help form DePaul University law professor Edward J. Benett, who commented “He was committed on the possibility that he would be mugged, beaten and robbed, and instead he’s locked up, filled with drugs and his money is taken gradually instead of in one clean sweep.”
This is an example of what I call psychiatry’s reign of error. I mean by this the exercise of the vast power that our society grants psychiatry and that psychiatry so readily accepts. The immense legal power given to psychiatry is based on faith, not reason. Society assumes that during their training psychiatrists are taught to do all of the things we have come to expect of them. This is a natural assumption. During training psychiatrists get plenty of practice doing psychotherapy. They also learn about psychoactive drugs and the body’s reaction to them. They learn about family relationships, child development, and group therapy. They gain experience offering consultation to medical patients, school personnel, and community agencies. They learn how some medical disorders may lead to mental dysfunction.
Yet, society also expects psychiatrists to go farther—to deal with the ethical and legal issues surrounding deviant behavior, criminal responsibility, public safety. In the process we overlook that psychiatrists are not trained to be expert or scientific in these matters.
The essence of science is objectivity and reliability. In science, personal opinion is replaced by methods of data collection that are replicable. While medicine has many methods of objective data collection, psychiatry’s methods rely on subjective impressions.

Bob Dylan has been on or in my mind a lot lately. 

Before the middle of December just past I was occupying my mind a lot with ‘Socrates in the City‘, whilst stacking shelves five or six nights per week. That is rather an understatement. I’ve listened to virtually all the lectures/book talks there are to offer, many of them more than twice. They filled my head with many ideas and egged me on to think more deeply about various ‘big questions’ that I have often tried to avoid.  It resulted in me spending a lot of time seemingly just staring at the ceiling in my spare time, which is all well and good if I was a hermit and not someone who is sharing life with a lady who has smaller questions occupying her mind and is crying out for support. 

To Dylan … well almost. I also got into the habit of listening to albums I adored in my childhood. Most of the albums were disappointing to my senses. Is that evidence that I’ve grown up? Some of the albums contained lyrics that seem to be prayers to God. As a youthful fanatic I didn’t take much time to listen closely to the lyrics, I was more interested in the sounds and fantasises of being an idol to the masses one day. Yuck. 

I have now started listening to albums that had caught my attention in much more recent times. Johnny Cash’s American Recordings. The music of Scott H. Biram, Those Poor  Bastards, Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, Hank Williams Sr., Lonesome Wyatt and Rachel Brooke.

Lots of old Blues are on the agenda, thanks in large part by having become, about twenty years ago, a keen listener of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. But I feel very sad for the tragic fate of at least two people in the original line up of Fleetwood Mac. Peter Green had to retire early in the early 1970s because of severe mental illness, the same goes for the late Danny Kirwen. It seems likely that recreational drug use led to both of these then very young men to become irreversibly mentally ill. One of the other very gifted members joined a weird religious cult in the the late sixties/early seventies and was never the same again.. Thankfully, Peter Green has recovered considerably in recent years.

At the end of last month I stumbled upon a 1997 album by Bob Dylan called ‘Time Out of Mind’. Since then I have probably listened to the album more than twenty times. The first time I listened to the album I was not impressed, it seemed rather forgettable. But I was stacking shelves, and the album was on repeat, so over the course of about  five hours I had listened to it  four times.

The first listening was nearly over, and I wanted to change what I was listening to, but I do not like to fiddle with my mobile device whilst on the shop floor. So it looped back to track one, and it sounded like a completely different album. I fell in love with it. Why? 

There are quite a lot of reasons I think.

The only one I feel like mentioning at this time is that I have no doubts in my mind that ‘Time Out of Mind’ is written by somebody who has experienced insanity of one sort or another. It is a lot deeper than it seemed to me on the first listen and it has led to youthful memories  that were extinct before. I would advise listening to this album on a loop for four hours or so, to see if it grows on you too.  

I wonder too what sort of ‘fan mail’ Bob Dylan has read over the years. Maybe the album is more reflective of others he has been in contact with rather than a reflection of his own personal experiences. I suspect it might be a combination of both. I obviously do not know. 

One more reason I love it. It has inspired a crazy plot, or at least sub-plot, to a story I might just very well start writing soon.

That’ll do for now.  My quest for patience continues…

Can’t Wait

by Bob Dylan



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