Isn’t it ironic?

I find it very ironic that there are so many people talking about how there is a huge need for accessible mental health services and a need to provide nurture and care for the folks at risk of marginalization due to mental illness and personality disorders, when many of these same people forward memes with quotes suggesting that removing people from one’s life who bring pain and discomfort is what needs to be done on a personal level.

Another irony is how many people I know or suspect who are dealing with a mental illness or personality disorders, diagnosed or not, who all but demand that others around them accommodate and accept them, as they are, yet turn around and treat others with criticism, rejection, and judgment.

I find it ironic that in a country where we hold such contempt for politicians and the modern mockery of the legislative process, our cry is to the politicians to enact more legislation as the solution to senseless tragedy.

Certainly we need better access to healthcare in all it’s forms, especially mental health. Yes, we need to figure out better ways of preventing gun violence.

However, I fully believe that ignorance and faulty understandings about both mental illness and guns have played much bigger roles than we understand or realize in the stigma and marginalization surrounding mental health issues, as well as the sensationalization of gun violence.

Education is a critical component. I think that there are many, many early warning signs that someone could be at risk of developing a personality disorder or is manifesting symptoms of a mental illness which makes them a risk to themselves and others. I suspect, much of the time, these signs and symptoms may be unrecognized, ignored, or rationalized away by teachers, parents and others because most people don’t have an accurate understanding and perception of what’s going on.

I think that, in American society, we (and I include myself in this) have a tendency to blame and criticize others and hold them accountable to a standard of behavior and attitudes we assume should be universal which are anything other than standard or common.

There is a young man I know who is very intelligent and has developed a strong faith and belief in the God of love, forgiveness, and redemption – he has experienced personal transformation and had his life turn 180 degrees as a result of personal changes that came about in conjunction with his surrendering to faith. He attributes the unconditional love, belonging, and acceptance he experienced from a surrogate father figure as the turning point and key to letting go of who he used to be and becoming the person he is today.

Prior to his reconversion experience this young man exhibited sociopathic tendencies, had abused drugs, and was a master manipulator. These were survival and coping mechanisms he developed while growing up in a chaotic and unstable environment filled with anger and permeated with anxiety and despair. Sadly, not an uncommon experience.

The statistics for one growing up within the conditions he grew up are not pretty or good and he fell into them in expected ways. He grew up affected by mental illness, continual conflict, and occasional physical violence. The one who may have been the author of much of the destruction in his childhood, his mother, recognized the harm she had done and continued to do, despite her best efforts, and reached out at every opportunity to connect him with those better able to help him and show him what healthy love looks like.

His life is different now. He is different now. All because there were people who cared about him, who did not write him off.

On a personal level, this young man knows and acknowledges that people not giving up on him, people capable of showing him unconditional love, people able to let go of judgement from his past mistakes, and people able to differentiate him from his behavior and attitudes are what has had the most impact in his recovery and growth.

Yet, despite his personal experiences of redemption, healing, growth and change he exhibits many of the same attitudes, assumptions, and intolerance or judgement toward others which he experienced from members of our society who treated him with the prejudices and ignorance fostered by what is projected regarding people like him. This is partly due to the fact he still has more healing and growth to experience. He did not come to be the person he was in a year. He still has a lifetime of healing, growth, and learning.

I am not criticizing him. I admire him and I have hope that his future path will continue and he will become a powerful force for love and change.

I am just making the observation that even one who knows on a personal level how things like mental illness and violence impact and affect the personal, emotional, and psychological development, still treats some people exhibiting affected characteristics with negative assumptions and intolerance.

I believe if we, as a society, would care as much about educating our children in how to think as much as we care about training them on what to think, we could change the world we live in for the better. I think if we were more concerned with teaching our children how to handle trauma, disappointment, and painful feelings than we are with training them to succeed, regardless of the cost, the disparity between the haves and have nots would diminish.

I wonder if focusing on training our children how to get along and interact positively with others instead of instilling them with the competitive need to be right would create the atmosphere of cooperation and tolerance we say we want but seem unable to bring into being?

I wonder if teaching our children the principles of things from the Twelve Steps, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy before mental illness, personality disorders, and compulsive/addictive behaviors manifest might result in less to heal and recover from?

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26 comments

  1. Reblogged this on Ran The Gauntlet and commented:
    Kira powerfully hits the nail on the head over and over. Listen up. The topic is mental health and gun violence, but the application is universal. We so need to stop the blame game, look at the discrepancies in our own logic, correct ourselves and teach our children something better. Christians – look for yourselves here – If I titled this for you, it would say, “Got Grace? Pay it forward.”

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  2. Kina – as I composed my response and question, you pretty much addressed it when talking with Ray’s Mom. Boy can you put words together! While I was composing my thoughts you said everything I wanted to say but more and better! So how do you think the educating, teaching, and informing about emotional problems, thinking skills, and our perceptions – and the desire to do so – is best made contagious?

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    1. RTG,
      I think that there are some very relevant preschool and toddler television programs that have begun doing this with my youngest’s generation. Many of these shows teach problem solving and relationship skills as well as emotional regulation and socialization. Watching and incorporating these things into conversations with our children is a start. Being able to recognize where our own limitations are and taking parent education classes such as Make Parenting a Pleasure, Incredible Years, and Positive Discipline. Mandating parental involvement and parenting education and providing psychological assessments and evaluations as well as physical health screenings and academic assessments could go a long way for early intervention and prevention. Not waiting until crime has been committed and irrevocable harm done before providing these kinds of education and family support services would be helpful. Removing the stigma and threats of punitive action by the state against parents who seek help would promote trust and full disclosure in ways that shame and fear do not.

      Just a few ideas off the top of my head.

      Be well,
      Kina

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  3. Kina, I am always energized and challenged by your direct and articulate thoughts. May I reblog this post? The criticize/blame thing – I’m guilty, too, but way less lately, because it hurts – me, and everyone else. I feel an instant ache when I begin to engage.Us vs. them again. Creating a false sense of community, connection and safety for US by being (or talking) against THEM, for whom we then create a true isolation, disconnection and lack of safety. I do eliminate painful people from my life, IF I honestly feel they trip triggers that can trip me, in which case I can’t be much good to them either. And I agree with your emphasis on educating and giving our children a more relevant skill set for living. THE BIG QUESTION – what can we do individually to influence change and education? Without criticizing and blaming.

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    1. RTG,
      Thank you for your open and honest response. I wasn’t intending to condemn or criticize anyone – everyone is doing the best they can to do the best they can, I truly believe that. I just felt the need to point out the ironies and contradictions we are told, tell ourselves, and promote without realizing it. I have often been “guilty” of those things myself.

      You may certainly reblogged this. Thank you for asking.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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      1. I don’t mean to imply that you condemn, etc. I don’t see that at all! I was thinking that part of communicating change involves the gentle art of presenting it without setting the listener up to feel judged thus wary, or actually becoming judgmental in my zeal. Juggling contradictions is the way my mind works – so I find irony to be positively thought provoking.

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  4. Our education system has changed so much in the last decade. I remember being taught critical thinking skills during my elementary school years. Our talented and gifted program was called EAGLE, Expanded Academic Growth Leading to Excellence. But in addition to working individually with those kids who needed more challenging work, our EAGLE teacher visited each of the classrooms once a week to teach some of the same skills to everybody. We all learned how to brainstorm ideas and think critically and create alternate scenarios for a given situation. These are things I don’t know that they still teach the way they did when I was in school, although they still have EAGLE and that teacher is still there.

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    1. Kay,
      I think that critical thinking skills as well as emotional intelligence both need to be included at all levels of education and for all students within the context of their developmental capacities. These are things that will enable children to become better adjusted adults better able to cope with and navigate the vagaries of life. IMHO.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Be well,
      Kin

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      1. I remember when we used to have conflict managers who roamed the playground at recess to help us address our squabbles in a more positive manner. Since the conflict managers were usually other kids, I don’t know that they were always effective. But I agree with you that addressing emotional concerns should be addressed with kids. If we don’t teach them how to handle their emotions, no one else will and tragedy will be the only result.

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        1. I remember Citizenship being one of the categories on report cards. It promoted and encouraged socially concious and respectful behavior. I think having some kind of behavioral and emotional response/attitude measurement, in conjunction with educators and staff working with mental health and child development specialists to establish and receive training in developing such a measurement tool, could be part of a preventative and early intervention tool to help children and their families receive services and supports.

          Peer mentoring and supports can be quite effective, perhaps establishing a buddy/mentor system between older and younger students, to promote cooperation and social responsibility.

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          1. We had a character traits program in my high school that recognized students for displaying whatever good character trait was up that month. I thought it was a wonderful program, but they’ve since discontinued it. They still have programs like peer helper, but those things aren’t available in lower grades. It would be helpful if they were. Younger kids don’t always know how to express themselves well and having a safe place to talk about things with others would be great.

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  5. You have analysed the analysis of the current lifestyle according to most who blame society for all the faults. I grew up when respect for parents, teachers and self was expected and required. However, it was the social movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s when the ‘feel good’ movement took over and pressure of the political correct speak dictated what parents could do or say to their children; teachers became baby sitters for ill mannered spoiled adolescents due to permissiveness. Children were allowed to sue their parents, courts enforced parental behavior that fed the agressiveness of children. The pledge of allegiance to the flag was removed long with any reference to God and the most outlandish mode of dress became the mantra of new generation of ‘in’ crowd.

    Turn around respect for all things, children, parents, pets, return God in our lives and perhaps society will change also.
    God bless, and Merry Christmas

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    1. Dear RM,
      While I understand what you are saying and recognize some of the facts, I disagree with your conclusions. The era of respect and expectations of conformity which you describe was also an era where racism, hidden abuse, and hidden domestic violence were allowed to thrive and go unchecked for fear of rocking the boat and being seen as non-conformist. Young women who had been abused and raped were ostracized and marginalized, frequently sent away and forcibly removed from their children. Children were taught and told that they only mattered in the context of the lives of the adults around them. The rebellion had the pendulum swing far to the other side, and subsequent generations has suffered mightily for both extremes. The problems and issues we face in our nation today have long and deep roots and are not merely the result of one generation’s rebellion against the traditions, mores and values of a prior generation. The good old days weren’t necessarily that good and shiny new ways soon lose their polish.

      Educating people on how to think critically and independently and to evaluate the information and research the facts is a keystone in changing the direction and future of our society. Teaching people how to cope with emotional disturbances and recognize the physical effects of emotional reactions will enable future generations to set aside propaganda and impulsive emotional reactions in order to work together. Informing and educating ourselves about the way our beliefs, perceptions, and life experiences are being exploited by the media, the politicians, and those in economic power to keep us in continual cycles of shame, blame, and conflict with one another, will do more to empower ourselves and each other.

      There is a saying about giving a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teaching a man to fish helps him feed himself for a life time. Teaching people what to think and how to act may bring order for a little while, but as we have seen doesn’t work over the long haul. Teaching people how to think and the reasons and natural consequences of actions will have a stronger and more lasting effect.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Blessings,
      Kina

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