I got news earlier today that a guy a dated 9 years ago passed away yesterday. It was a murder/suicide. He killed his ex-girlfriend and then himself leaving his daughter behind. Unbelievable.

He fought a hard battle against a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder and its effects for most of his life. During our relationship I got to know a very sweet and tender man who was dedicated to serving others and a great dad to his little girl, who at that time was just a cute 4-year-old monkey who would hang on my arm.

Not to relieve any personal responsibility or accountability for devastating actions, but it is hard for me to not blame our society, the very professional world that I've been working my butt off to be a part of for the last 4 years (a frustration for another post). The western way of doing things--the medical model that psychology has so desperately tried to follow to give itself "credibility"--sticks people in boxes by labeling them with a diagnosis and prescribing a certain system for treatment. I believe that system is seriously flawed. When you label someone as "bi-polar" or anything else, it limits them to living a certain way--a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. (Emotions are strong for me right now, so I hope you'll forgive my scattered thoughts...but I just think this is such an important topic.) We have come to accept the way things are "done" as factual rather than theory and it DRIVEs me CraZy. I cannot tell you how easy it is for me to invite frustration in when I hear people deifying pop psychology and talking in labels. I think of my friend. If someone had allowed him to challenge unquestioned assumptions of what he was going through, allowed him to have his own voice about it, maybe he could have been given some hope in options, rather than being stuck with a problem-saturated idea of "self".

In the works of Michal Foucault, a French philosopher, he refers a panopticon, a circular prison that allows for invisible surveillance. The prison cells are all on the outside while the guards remain in a tower on the inside. Because of the way that it is built, the prisoners cannot see the guards, but can be seen at all times. Eventually, the guards didn't even need to be there anymore just because of the threat that the prisoners were being watched all the time. The theorist who designed this type of prison described it as a "mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example." Well, Foucalt's idea is that society creates a panopticon effect with its "discourse" which is defined as "what can be said and thought, and also who can speak and with what authority". There are all these taken-for-granted ideas out there, most of the time unspoken--because of the panopticon effect, the guards do not need to stand watch, we as prisoners will follow the rules of discourse anyway. We get shackled by what we are "supposed to do/be/feel". Ian Law & Stephen Madigan explain that "Foucalt suggests discourse refers not only to the words and statements themselves, but to their connection with the complexities of social and power relations which prevail in a given context, and which constrain what is said."

I think a lot of this could be left over from the Puritanical perspective of God as a cruel warden. We limit people. But God is not a cruel warden, he is a loving and perfect Father. I am so grateful that He is also the Judge and understands with omniscient compassion and will take care of my friend.

Juxtapose that with what I witnessed right after getting that upsetting phone call, the baptism of my cousin's oldest son, Taylor. This is Taylor (8) and Josh (6), brothers not by blood, but by the sealing power of the priesthood of God. My first cousins-once removed ;).


Tiff said...

Oh gosh Charity! I remember when you dated him! I was actually just thinking about him and his daughter the other day...why? I don't know...I just started wondering what had happened between you guys (I think I left on my mission when you were dating), then I wondered where he was now. I'm so sad to hear this news. Heartbreaking!

okiedokiegma said...

Don't know what I could say to help at this time. Just wanted to let you know how very much we appreciate your love and support of our family. Your presence and smiles are always welcome! We love you and pray for a great 2009 for you.

Freeman Family said...

Wait... what.... was that who I think it was? I guess I need to call Spencer...Email me.