? “Pathologising neurodiversity is a form of oppression”?
It is well known that the way we perceive reality is so varied. We all operate to a different map inside our heads. The lens we see life through, conditioned in childhood and polished daily by the thoughts that run through out heads, so utterly different it can boggle the mind..
So why do we expect everyone to be the same?
This socio-normative dilution of what a human being should experience is at best dull and at worst, oppressive to the point of outright discrimination.
At med school we took a module called Valuing Diversity. It is well known that educational establishments and businesses have to employ X number of people who identify a LGBT or are of Colour etc This has been going on for decades at least.. so how is mental health still not even vaguely catching up?
It appears that people who commune directly with plants, live parallel lives in the dreamtime, believe themselves to be direct descendants/prior versions of star beings, talk to waterfalls as if they were people, channel intelligent entities, see spirits or hear voices in their heads are still judged to be “woowoo”. Yup, crazy… or cray cray if you’re hood.
I wonder, do you judge these people. Does even a little bit of you? I do. There are layers of woo that even I have not transcended yet, of course this is my conditioning, but my heart always stays present to their experience, knowing it to be equally valid to mine. Maybe i’m even a little jealous… being one who does not perceive this way, I always wonder, what would it be like…?
When considering this I often return to this maxim. Something we were taught in Medical School:
“Pain is what the patient says it is”
Who are we to judge someone else’s pain? We can’t stand in their shoes. We are not privy to the infinitesimally complex interplay of neurotransmitters and thought processes that cause them to genuinely perceive pain where another would not. Just because pain is easier to perceive in others does that make it more acceptable a thing to value than other ways they are interpreting their reality?
Synaesthesia, the combining of usually unrelated senses – smell and touch, music and vision, is a socially acceptable form of an unusual of state perception. But the spectrum goes much farther. When will we accept this?
It really hammers home just how much Mental health is still stigmatised. The final frontier. That it is behind racial equality and gender politics in the diversity stakes. And that many even categorise stances like believing in fairies or star people, to be a “mental health” issue, shows just how much judgement there still is.
And all in such a tiny amount of time.
Go back just a few hundred years and you would have been weird NOT to think many of these thoughts many now judge and disregard as silly.
And with this judgement comes just as much shame, for those now having to hide their parallel interdimensional experience of existence.
The truth is that many of these people are fully functional, even successful individuals that have just learnt to hide it well. Many from fear of stigmatisation, categorisation, or worse, institutionalisation.
Some are lucky enough to find tribe they can truly be themselves with, but, for many more, this is not the case.
As someone who considers herself psychically inert (I don’t see spirits, commune to guides or have the patience to interact with plants) this almost worked in the reverse. I was ashamed to NOT feel or see these things. My chosen tribe always seem to have such fruity experiences, I almost feel left out!
And, due to some ironic brush of fate, I seem to attract clients who are often having some very powerful and involving experiences. Experiences Castaneda would have been impressed by!
In these calls my practice has been to sit in the space of the pure presence and non-judgement with these clients. Their experience is what they say it is and it is my job to welcome all of them. To shine the light so bright that all shame simply disperses. Many have, years down the line been shocked to realise I don’t see Spirits, after years of talking to me about it and thinking I did! I consider this a great achievement.
It is important to remember that it is our beliefs around what is happening to us and how we relate to it that determines if it pathological or not. Are you still fully functional in society? Yes? You can go to work? Yes? Then, tick, you can’t have a problem! Ummmm…. no. Sadly, this is the World we live in. Look at functional alcoholism and depressives on medication dragging themselves about their lives… Is that living? I don’t think so.
Yes there are some who really have gone beyond knowing how to help themselves, and for them intervention is needed, but for many, like autism (indeed this is likely the polar opposite of the Woo spectrum), the range is large, varied and often very beautiful.
Where am I going with all this? It is quite the rant
The invitation is for those who are in hiding to acknowledge their map. To decide for yourself if your experience of it is joyful to you or not. A burden to you or actually a special power you just haven’t acknowledged as such. To even cherish it. And then, to find community. To find people who wont judge you for being exactly who you are.
God knows the World is not set up for you right now, but there are people and places you can go to. Every honest disclosure in a safe space is a step towards healing and the destigmatisation of neurodiversity.
Below I have linked an amazing TED talk by a Lady who learnt how to talk to the voices in her head and got off all her meds and back into society (an incredible feat given then most are unemployable with a previous diagnosis of psychosis). Watch, be inspired and choose how you want to feel about your experience of “reality”.