Tag Archives: mental illness

Nothing Changes

It’s been over a year since I started writing here. It’s been almost two years since I’ve been having a psychoanalysis. I understand a lot more now. I understand how my brain works in intimate detail. I can recognise the voices now, and understand their agendas. I can physically sense my anxiety creeping up, like a burning sensation in my forehead, just like Harry Potter when he senses Voldemort coming. I see it like a cloud coming over my eyes when the anger starts to boil up, and I’ve learnt when to turn away. Some days I truly believe I’m healing.

Yet nothing really changes. I still feel the same as I always have. A feeling of hopelessness. A feeling of isolation. Like I will never truly know what it is to connect with another person. It keeps me awake at night. Itching, like a dog scratching at the inside of my mind.

I’m starting to see that some things can’t be healed. The anger, for instance, will always be there. It’s like a load bearing post for my personality, and I must either retain it or discard everything that I am. The only hope for not feeling what I feel is death. This makes me sad, deeply so, because I don’t know if anyone can truly love so much anger. I’ve learnt to redirect it somewhat, and turn it in circles. Yet, it still remains.

I have many reasons to be angry. This isn’t simply selfishness. If you had the memories I have floating around your brain you would be angry too. So many memories. When they all start to flow out there are so many thoughts I can barely focus on any single one. This makes it hard to know what is even real, when your thoughts aren’t even opaquely conscious, more of a miasma of anger and half remembered things. They keep me awake at night, like I am now. They taunt me.

People often make romantic notions, such as “you chose to continue being the victim”, but this is simply not true. If you believe this then you probably were either never really a victim in the first place, or you have deluded yourself that you’re not now. For instance, when I was young my family was poor, something you can’t really understand unless you’ve truly known what that is. Even though, in some measures at least, I am quite wealthy now, I will ALWAYS suffer from poverty. There are just some scars that can’t be healed. No, it’s not even that exactly. It’s that you can’t kick the monkey off your back if the monkey is you.

I don’t even know who I am any more.

It’s still just as painful to write. I still hear the voices judging every word I put down. My overwhelming desire is to delete everything and run away so that I don’t face the risk of discovering that everything I think and say is self indulgent nonsense. I just don’t know what else there is I can do. One thing I’ve come to realise is that the moment you think you’re somewhere is the moment you suddenly realise it all runs much deeper than you ever imagined.

“Well the tiniest little dot caught my eye and it turned out to be a scab
And I had this funny feeling like I just knew it’s something bad
I just couldn’t leave it alone, I kept picking at the scab” Only, Nine Inch Nails

I have learnt one thing about myself. Well, not learnt exactly, more came to recognise the obvious truth. There is one overwhelmingly defining trait that has allowed me to make it as far as I have. I will never quit. I refuse to lay down and die. I will find a way to beat this or I will die trying. Sometimes, though, the road seems so long. I spend a lot of time wondering if I’ll make it to the end before I die, and if I don’t is there really any point?

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Sociopaths And The Collapse Of Conservatism Part 1

The Most Annoying Thing

This is part of a series on politics and psychology. You can jump to other parts here:
Prologue: A Tale Of Two Blogs
Part 1: The Most Annoying Thing
Part 2: Sociopaths, Losers and the Clueless

The most annoying thing for many sufferers of mental illness, so far as I can tell (or at least for me), is when a well meaning normal tries to relate. It’s a special kind of (probably unintentional) arrogance that assumes they would have any idea what it’s like to suffer the kinds of anxiety that true sufferers go through.

I figure it’s all meant to be some kind of harmless bonding exercise. I suspect, and this is just hypothesis, that it stems from the fact that for many people the worst thing they’ve ever had to deal with is having to drink Pepsi instead of Coke (which I understand, believe me). And so you go through life trying to optimise your privelige, “Oh you like drum and base? I like drum and base TOO!”. Of course it’s assumed that they’re already in agreement of all the really important matters in life and what they’re after is simply another priveliged person with whom they won’t have to worry about what station the television is switched to.

So when a person with really difficult problems opens up to them, they respond in the only way they know how: a sort of quasi believable connection. “Oh you sometimes think of slashing your wrists with razor blades because your uncle used to rape you as a child? I have bad days TOO!”

And it gets even worse the longer a normal attempts to be supportive in this world that completely bamboozles them. They attempt to offer advice…which at the end of the day is like a mouse trying to tell an elephant how to lose weight. There’s two things wrong here: one, they’re assuming the problems the other person has are the same (either in intensity or type) as the problems they experience, and two, they’re assuming that the only reason they’re not in the situation the other person finds themselves in is because of the rather intelligent actions they took.

This is largely because most people are still living under the delusion that most if not all of our actions are the result of conscious free will. Many religions, for example, express free will as some kind of gift. The reality couldn’t be further from it: most discrimination comes from using the concept of free will to judge and persecute people who never had any real choice in the first place! (This, as an aside, is one of the main tenants of existentialism.) If you’re still convinced that this is true then youhaven’tbeenpayingattention!

“Thoughts simply arise in the brain. What else could they do? The truth about us is even stranger than we may suppose: The illusion of free will is itself an illusion” Sam Harris The Moral Landscape, p112

In fact, there is almost no scientific evidence that supports the idea of free will, while most indicates that thoughts are initiated unconsciously while coming all but completely debunking the myth of free will (in the sense that people usually think about it in terms of contribution to outcomes, let’s leave the religious interpretation of free will to another time).

And so, with this myth prevalent in their minds, along with perhaps a certain amount of Dunning Kruger effect, normal people go ahead and make suggestions such as, “just go out and have fun”. The same principle applies to many things in life, and it’s really no different to claims such as “go get a job”.

Privilege, not to put too fine a point on it, is like being lucky enough to have a seat on a crowded train…and THEN having the gall to eviscerate other passengers for wobbling around.

It’s quite convenient, in fact, for people in positions of privilege to perpetuate this belief. It allows them to continue their privileged lifestyle completely guilt free, and to oppress the people that otherwise might claim sovereign right to their properties. This is something I’d like to call The Abbott Paradox.

But wait, doesn’t paradox imply some aspect of irony? At first appearance, it would seem that applying this sense of privilege reinforcing logic advances the status of the normal while oppressing the status of the victim. And for the short term that is almost certainly true. But what is paradoxical about this logic is that IN REALITY a divided system will almost always collapse and take down the top and the bottom with it both!

For instance, in the nineteenth century, before the invention of public garbage disposal, cholera threatened to wipe out entire populations! And it wasn’t just the poor who were at stake since so many poor people with cholera meant rich people were contracting it too. Hence began the tradition of publicly funded waste removal (aka socialism..omg).

In fact, the vast majority of human improvements have come about because of social minded decisions. Think about it: where would we be without roads? Gas pipes? Water pipes (aka aqueducts one of the earliest examples of social responsibility)? How about police? Ambulances? Firemen? Our armed forces? Public education? Whether you like it or not, you are a socialist by the very virtue of enjoying civilisation. Even the basis of civilisation, the social contract, IS ITSELF A FORM OF SOCIALISM!

If we look still further back, to the dawn of time, as seen in our closest living relatives, “even the most extreme form of human tolerance and altruism is in part driven by our genes”.

What would happen if we take away our medical system from poor people? DO GERMS OBEY THE LAW? They bow to no master and will attack and destroy the lowliest pauper to the tallest of kings all the same. Do you want to live in a world where you could contract a deadly disease by merely walking down the street?

Or to return to the original topic briefly, do you want to live in a world where people under extreme mental stress lose control and kill yourself or your friends and children?

This is why inequality is bad for everyone. The only difference between the privileged and the oppressed is that the oppressed have seen the man behind the curtain. H G Wells explained it best in The Time Machine, in which the underclasses are pushed so far down that they are forced by necessity to EAT THE RICH!

It gets worse. Lately, it seems, there appears to be a growing delusion that not only should we reduce support for the oppressed classes but that the government should spend as much on services for the rich as the money those people contribute. As though the government were nothing but a pay for service toy for the rich. The self entitlement is astounding. Far from the truth though, they ignore the fact that their wealth was set in place HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO at GUN POINT!

NO. Government assistance is repairing the damage of YOUR forefathers. They wax rhetorical about true Australians (AS IF THERE IS SUCH A THING), but in truth Australia was founded on the backs of criminals and paupers. And now they want to take back what WE created.

Capitalism has truly become a farce. It serves no one but to perpetuate the DELUSION that some are born masters and some are born slaves. And the lie exists in many forms, whether it be mental illness, race, creed, sexual identity, or more, but they all exist for some purpose: to maintain the position of the rich, paradoxically making us ALL poorer by virtue.

There’s a second paradox though. Kind of a meta-paradox you might say. In fact, the likes of Tony Abbott are guilty of NOTHING MORE than that which they were preordained to do, caused by the hidden restraints of the privileged class. The truth is that the encumbant rich are in fact suffering from one of the strongest mind traps of all: one that is in PLAIN SIGHT! That may be the silver lining to our current times, that long after we’ve evolved past this idiocy, that Abbott will be remembered for the sad, degenerate, mentally redundant imbecile that he is.

“‘Cause I’d rather stay here
With all the madmen
Than perish with the sadmen roaming free” David Bowie All The Madmen

I guess there are people out there that will see this all as quite a stretch. Wondering how I got from misunderstanding of mental illness to REBUKING THE SYSTEM AS A WHOLE! I suppose it’s easy to dismiss this as the rantings of a mad man. But just like epistemology revolutionised modern thought, it is idiotic to ignore the truth of all ideas: ALL IDEAS COME FROM FRAGILE MINDS.

I suppose that’s the point of this whole blog. If you’ve been wondering why I switch from philosophy to psychology to personal experience (seemingly randomly), there’s a reason for this. It’s a fundamental truth I’ve come to learn. Philosophy without psychology is simply guessing.

My Sweet Anxiety

I’m feeling it today. Like a huge pressure bearing down. I am the rabbit among the wolves. Everyone is out to get me.

Here we go again. Trying to broach “that” topic. Another article you’ll probably never read. Because it never works…and there’s a reason why. You’d understand if you knew the answer but until that point you may just have to guess.

Some days it’s just so hard to see the humorous side of things. I know it shouldn’t matter, it’s just I guess people like that kind of thing…and well…that’s part of the problem. I feel an intense compulsion to perform, like a rabbit in a cage.

Attention can be my worst enemy. When I know someone is reading I feel I need to please them. My best work comes when I’m writing “into the wind”, so to speak. When someone is watching I feel trapped. Like a rabbit in a spotlight.

That’s how I’m feeling right now. That’s how I feel almost all the time in fact, just now it’s a little extreme. There’s a tightness inside, like I’m getting ready to defend myself from…well something. My eyes are sweating a little. I hardly move aside from the small almost imperceptible movements of my fingers as I type on my phone. Ok, here we go…

When I was younger I lived in a small town. Well several small towns really. My father got shifted around a lot, due at first to working in a bank and following where the work was I guess. Later it was just bad luck. But it’s all the same, either way, and the end result is I really have no place I can call home.

It’s really difficult to form real bonds when you’re moved from town to town. Most people come from families that have lived in these towns since their grandparents. They’re afraid of outsiders…not necessarily in a direct sense (although there is that too). It’s more of a deep sense of foreboding. And among the children that becomes expressed as hatred. There were times, especially just after I’d moved town, when it wasn’t just my imagination, everyone really did hate me.

God it’s hard to talk about the past. It comes back to “that” thing. I could explain but the first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club. Suffice it to say, in my mind, every single word is being judged.

Maybe that’s why I’ve developed such a critical eye for analysis of literature. I know what it’s like to write from a tortured soul. Every word carefully weighed and measured. Nothing left that shouldn’t be there.

I can feel the eyes of strangers staring at me. Like they can see the words I’m typing. Like they are judging me. Getting ready to attack. My sweet anxiety.

That’s what I fear will be judged the most. It’s almost romantic. ALMOST like I love to be the anxiety guy. It gives me definition. How else can one talk though when we’re surrounded by romanticism on every side. So much of our literature in modern times is dominated by it, I almost want to throw up at the thought.

Entire subcultures have arisen around romanticising anxiety. Emo, goth. There are others but its all the same. It’s a little insulting in some ways, but in other ways I know how they feel so I can feel some sort of bond. Part of me thinks its just pathetic romanticisation but I’d like to think that at least on some level it’s an attempt to express the unspeakable.

So anyway, back to the story. One thing that we did (semi regularly) when I was growing up was to go fox and rabbit hunting. It was fairly common in the country, partly because both are quite a nuisance to farming. I would go with my cousin shooting. Funny to think now that we used to let our children go out “playing” with guns.

I was never any good at it. In fact I never once even shot an animal. I’m not sure why but I just didn’t have an aptitude for shooting. It’s possible I was a little nervous at the thought of killing. Well at least, I never shot anything until one day.

I must have been about nineteen. I’d gone out with a friend I had made at university as well as my dad. Or at least that’s how I remember it but sometimes my memories get jumbled up. I don’t completely remember the events leading up to it, but I remember the moment. It was like time stretched out for eternity. The rabbit had ended up sitting before me, possibly entranced by the spot light. It looked kind of dumbfounded, like the empty look you see in a sheep’s eyes just before you cut it’s throat. I stood with the gun in my hand, aiming. The others stood by watching. He looked up at me, almost begging for me to finish it, but how could I possibly have known that?

When I was really young, like five years old, I had a lot of cuddly toys. Teddy bears and the like literally (I mean the classic sense of the word) covered my bed and filled our toy box. My favourite however was a little white rabbit. From memory it was shaped like an actual rabbit, not one of these Bugs Bunnyesque “rabbits”. It was actually kind of off white, and it had a fuzzy exterior almost like soft carpet.

I don’t think anyone else knew but I loved that little rabbit. I would sleep with it every night. There are certain things that I would just find sublime and could probably never explain exactly why. Like the sensation of going up and down stairs. Or the Down syndrome girl I made friends with at school. The feeling of quiet solitude in a school library. And that little toy rabbit. Few things in life make no demands, and that was one of them.

One day a lady came to the door (at least I recall mum saying it was a lady) asking for donations for poor children. I believe they were looking for old toys to give to the less fortunate. A room full of toys were there, if only I’d been asked I probably would have chosen several. Except that I wasn’t asked and just like that my first friend was gone. It wouldn’t be the last.

Flash forward fourteen years and there I was standing in the field, my friend looking up at me. Asking me to forgive him. Asking me to forgive myself. Not moving, an easy target. Finally here was a shot I couldn’t miss. Then boom.

Goodbye childhood.


Does this explain why I love this ending so much…?

The Moral Mind Trap

Lately I’ve been struggling. It’s a kind of mish mash of feelings, somewhere between fear of offending, feeling like my thoughts aren’t good enough, and a feeling (justified or otherwise) of not being able to bring my thoughts to the forefront of what it is I’m trying to write. For someone who writes, it’s kind of paralysing.

The mind is a strange beast. Intuitively (especially in this age of computerisation) we imagine it to be very simple. The standard (naive) mental model is something like this: input goes in, intelligent man (because of course we have a completely different prevailing mental model for women) applies his carefully constructed logic, and decisions come out like manna from heaven. Who would question the results of rational thinking?

But the reality of the situation is of course much deeper than this, and much more dangerous for our misconceptions of the process. I’ve talked before, for instance, about the different voices that vie for control when we think, such as for example (as Freud termed it) the superego. This is just the tip of a very large iceberg of ignorance, hypocrisy, and just plain bad thinking. Not to be deterred by the vastness of the problem however, that’s exactly where we shall begin.

Freud described the superego as that part of our mind that seeks to impose moral ideals onto our conscious thought. It’s not an actual part of our brain hardware, but rather it can be thought of as a piece of software that is intended to protect us. You can think of it as the squishy gray version of antivirus software (unless you find the thought of squishy gray things slightly erotic, in which case your superego has been informed and has got his eye on you). You probably know it under several incarnations: the conscience, the little angel on your shoulder, self criticisms (like repeating catch phrases that an influential figure from your childhood might have said), or that image of father that comes to me at night and insists I spank myself for all the bad deeds of the day (I “swear” I just tripped and fell into this harness). Mostly (at least as Freud theorised) it is even unconscious, that feeling of dread you get when doing something that may not be in the publics (and therefore vicariously your) interest.

For the most part the superego is a super neat guy. It’s the part of our brain that stops society from descending into chaos. Don’t rape people in the street, don’t eat your sister, don’t murder your neighbour (no matter how annoying country music is…but that’s another story).

When distorted through trauma or extreme oppression (which I suppose is a kind of trauma as well) however it can become a destructive force in your mind. It seeks to punish you for natural feelings, to the point where you are not making decisions in life from a position of clear rational thought, but simply out of trying to avoid the wrath of the superego. Left unquestioned, or even worse, reinforced by certain seemingly rational behavioural patterns, and we become its slave.

This becomes a real problem for society, because the next step (once the thinking has ceased) is to turn the fear outwards. Hatred very often is fear inverted. It’s almost certainly not true (in spite of being completely comforting to imagine) that most people hate something because they secretly desire it themselves (like the classic “You’re only homophobic because you’re gay”). But there may be a shred of truth to the concept. More likely, when confronted with something that contradicts someone’s personal moral code, the superego steps in and starts a conversation that goes something like this: “Are you sure you’re strong enough? Maybe you’ll be doing that next. And if you do I’m going to whip you like a butter pancake. If it was me, and I sincerely mean this as a suggestion devoid of any threats, I’d stop that person.”

We don’t like to think about this effect. Part of the superegos makeup is to punish us for even thinking of discussing it. The first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club. The second rule of fight club is you do NOT talk about fight club. Well fuck the rules. I’m talking about fight club.

For the sake of the argument I’m going to coin a phrase. It may not be of my devising since it most likely comes from my subconscious which may have come from others writings. Regardless it’s a term I often use in my thoughts. I call it a mind trap.

A mind trap could be defined as “a series of (seemingly) logical statements, which taken together form an unbreakable circular argument, that specifically ensnares our thoughts so that we can’t break our pattern of thinking without extreme effort”. I’ll also add that usually we are oblivious to the mind traps that ensnare us, primarily because the logic seems so sound and rational. It’s often not a passing thought but a fundamental way of life. It will be seen (by the person ensnared) as a part of WHO they are, and therefore by definition to escape said mind trap is to deny oneself (this is even a mind trap in itself).

There is a common mind trap I’ve observed, and it goes a little something like this. Thomas is good. We know Thomas is good because Thomas does good things. How do we know the things Thomas does are good? Because Thomas does them. To question Thomas’s actions is heresy. Thomas said so. I call this the moral mind trap.

This is one of the most insidious traps a mind can fall into. Since morals are so fundamental to our identity we will fight to defend it. It will come as a personal front for another to suggest we question our reasoning.

Taken alone, I suppose, this isn’t the most terrible thing someone could fall privy to. A well balanced mind could probably overcome Thomas. It’s when the superego becomes a fan of Thomas that the problem arises. That is when hatred is born, both inward and outward. The moral mind trap becomes the holding pattern the superego uses to divert our incoming critical thought. By diverting our regular rational thought, terrible things are done in the name of reason and decency.

My name is Tyler Durden. This is my story.

“We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives.” – Fight Club