urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
The last post is actually a pretty good illustration of why I am much more inclined to support the Make It Better Project, than It Gets Better. (Problems with Dan Savage aside.)

The major reason things have gotten better for me is that I am no longer legally required to spend many hours a day around people who behave that way. Seriously. As an adult who is unable to work ATM, I can mostly just avoid the adult jerks who aren't even bothering to be more subtle in harassing other people. Not to mention having worked hard to claw back some self-respect and dignity over the years, so more of what I do encounter can roll off my back.

Making our society easier to live in? I can get right behind that idea, daunting as the prospect may seem. Small steps can help people regain some dignity, if nothing else. Waiting for things to magically improve for yourself, never mind everyone else who's getting treated like crap? Not so much.

ETA: I also get tired of people getting blamed when they end up undereducated (and do I keep blaming myself for it), thanks to PTSD and no reasonable expectation that the kind of treatment they get will improve. When people have managed to survive, but would rather gouge their eyeballs out with a rusty potato peeler than voluntarily deal with the same systemic problems again--whether the harassment is based on sexuality, gender, race, disability, whatever else, or whatever combinations--that kinda puts a crimp in the whole "magically getting better" thing.

Yeah, the "unable to work" bit reminded me of this; undereducation has not been helpful. Things may be a bit different at the university level, but they're still | not | good (and Virginia Tech is not somehow anomalous, though I was getting stalked on campus at around the same time the shameful Brzonkala mess was happening). See also Hate Crimes on Campus and Stop The Hate.

And that's just one problem I have with propping up the status quo.
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
[personal profile] greenknight pointed out two interesting posts earlier, and I thought I'd pass them both along. One, How to keep someone with you forever, from [livejournal.com profile] issendai, talks about the characteristics of sick systems in both personal relationships and organizations. I couldn't help but be reminded of a couple of pieces casting the federal government (BIA in particular) in the role of abusive partner. Controlling and abusive tactics look pretty similar across the board. :-|

The second is [personal profile] rachelmanija's response to Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm's recent article on mental illness and the "artistic temperament", This Is Your Brain On Drugs....

The hell of it is, both made some reasonable points.

Some personal experience )

The most important thing, IMO? Recognizing that the person is running into problems, and working with them to try to figure out what will help them cope better, in a non-judgmental manner. (This may well include medication(s), BTW.) There is no magical fix, and it really doesn't help to frame the situation in terms of fixing someone else. If what you are doing is not improving the situation, it's time to reconsider how (and why) you are "helping"--and try a different approach to working with the person until you find something that does work.

The biggest overall problem, AFAICT? Universalism, to the exclusion of pragmatic approaches to helping people lead better lives (where "better" is whatever makes that particular person happier and healthier). As I described it elsewhere:
The source of the difference--neurodiversity or culture--doesn't even matter, from a universalist standpoint:
Here’s what I mean: if I have a universalist orientation, that fact alone can make me insensitive to cultural difference. If I’m universalist, I will tend to believe there’s one set of principles to live by — everywhere in the world. That is a stance that undermines what intercultural sensitivity is all about.

This shows up all over the world when universalists are present. Think of imperialism and colonialism: it’s no accident that the main perpetrators have been nations with largely universalist orientations.

Universalists can be slow to see a need for intercultural consulting, coaching and training. What value could these services possibly add, if things are the same the world over? Or, in a weaker version: if everyone in the world wants the same things?

If everyone is assumed to be perceiving things in the same way, reacting to them in the same manner, expressing the resulting (same) emotions in the same way, while motivated by the same considerations in any given situation--any deviation from the expected pattern may well be interpreted as a sign of poor mental health. This has happened to me, and to family and friends.

Especially in the US these days, the response to a perception of mental illness is frequently to medicate the person, without really trying to find out what is going on. Nor what coping skills and/or support might help them live the kinds of lives they want. Situational distress is sometimes assumed to be a lifelong, biologically-based mental illness, though the symptoms may go away when the person's stressful circumstances change and/or they learn some better ways of coping with what's going on in their lives. (Of course, people who really do fit criteria for mental illnesses also benefit greatly from this!) A medicalized, universalist approach to human diversity seems to be what Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm is protesting--and taking it way too far in another display of insulting universalism.

Everyone is different. Every situation is different. It's important to bear this in mind. The "oh, that's just how s/he is" approach, while very useful up to a point, can be taken to the point of the absurd (as in common usage of the "artistic temperament" idea). When has it gone too far? When you are more interested in cramming someone else into the "artistic temperament" (or similar) model than in paying attention to what very difficulties the real human being in front of you may be experiencing. If you can't do things like make sure your bills are paid on time, that's a problem, right there--and it can be worked around and/or some kind of support put in place.*** It's just the flip side of the "you can't do X and Y because you're mentally ill" coin. Binary, universalist thinking trumps actually helping the person, in either case. It's dishonest and disrespectful, besides just not being useful.

Which brings me right back around to the themes of balance and pragmatism, honesty and respect, and pretty much all the rest of the stuff I talked about in Happiness, Part 4: Seeing beauty. What has helped me the most is working on figuring out what I really want and how my brain works, doing away with a lot of the universalist "shoulds"--and working with that to find strategies that help me do what I want/need to do.

Obligatory notes ;) )

September 2011

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