...Forgive me if I digress. I cannot tell you who I am unless I tell you why I am. I cannot help you to take a measurement until we both know where we stand...

Jeanette Winterson, Gut Symmetries

I use the term psychoanalysis only loosely, as I have not strictly adhered to any formal definition of psychoanalysis. I have addressed aspects of psychology that have seemed relevant to me, while realizing that I still may not be seeing enough.

Who I am and where I stand in the world are difficult for me to accept, and as a result I find that it is necessary for me to try to understand who I am from more angles or perspectives. In 2009, I studied evolution, including the evolution of the emotions; selfish gene theory; the history of psychology; feminism; differences between male, female and intersex brains; child psychology, including cognitive development, perception, and language acquisition; socioeconomic and cultural factors; women and aging; the psychology of suicide; Freud and the unconscious; addictions; and psychological effects associated with medical conditions. I tried to think about all the topics I studied in relation to my own personal situation. I considered the dilemma of individuality vs conformity, as well as the concept of rational self-determination.

I have also tried to take on The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to some extent. When it came to the infamous DSM, I felt overwhelmed by the idea of how difficult it would be to address the effects that it and similar tracts (including and perhaps even especially erroneous popular interpretations of them) may have had on my life, and how they affect everyone's attitudes about psychological functioning and normality, and how we categorize and treat others.

I have come up with diagnoses that I think are or would have been appropriate for various stages of my life, perhaps able to see now what the professionals missed, and what effects misdiagnosis and misprescription had in my life.

It can be difficult to shake off the stigma and prejudice with which even the professionals (perhaps unconsciously) treat those whose functioning is not seen as 'normal'. I have tried to address how this stigma is itself a significant obstacle which may contribute to a snowball effect.

It is a long and arduous process to try to untangle and weigh the effects of the various contributing factors that result in the 'I' that we associate with ourselves - or even to work out of what the 'I' is actually composed.

It is more simple to believe that one major, easily identifiable tragedy affects the outcome of someone's life than to try to think about all the possible contributing factors. It is also natural to try to find rules to explain types of behaviour, and to put people into categories in our attempts to understand and control what frightens or puzzles us. Whatever theories I have encountered and find relevant to aspects of the whole, my story is my story, and is not exactly the same as anyone else's. I can only speak for myself and attempt to interpret for myself.

...the movement away from theory and generality is movement toward truth. All theorising is flight. We must be ruled by the situation itself and this is unutterably particular. Indeed it is something to which we can never get close enough, however hard we may try as it were to crawl under the net...

Iris Murdoch, Under the Net

It doesn't make sense to me to say that my isolation, my lack of employment or social functioning is all down to my own negative attitude, or to a chemical imbalance or biological influence. For a very long time, I thought it was related to a lack of character, but that no longer seems like a fair assessment.

It took a very long time for me to seek out other possible explanations, and to understand to what extent my depression and wish for death might have been based on unconscious factors, and to what extent possibly based upon carefully considered and even rational (or at least understandable) reasons, considering all the relevant factors in my situation. I have sought out information and conversation which would (hopefully) challenge my thinking, rather than merely reinforce unexamined unconscious prejudice.

When it comes to the mind, it may be more difficult to identify obstacles and the individual challenges or tests that we face. It may be difficult to find a language for one's individual experience.

It is one thing to recognize factors that have contributed to an 'unhappy' existence, but I don't think that recognition of contribution is the same thing as blame. The more aware I have become, the more I have perceived the factors that others face or have faced themselves. We all impact each other. However human beings are formed, whatever their circumstances and the challenges of their lives, they each have to face their own lives.

My parents had children because they thought it was what they had to do. They did the best they knew how to do. Those I encountered in the psychiatric profession did the best they knew how to do at the time. There were various friends, family members and others along the way who tried to express caring, or to help, according to the principles and values they had acquired.

Everyone faces tests and obstacles in life, and it is nowhere written that these must be equal for everyone. It doesn't make sense to me that I would continually be on the receiving end of 'bad luck'. Ultimately I have to face that it is necessary for me to stop hiding behind depression and in my own way take on the world and its beliefs. In other words, the conflicts I experienced, the inability to fit in or accept my 'medicine' represented differences in opinion, perception and philosophy that it was necessary for me to learn how to identify, own, and articulate.
















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