May. 1st, 2013

avia: (captive swan)
(This post is public.)

Just a thought that's been going through my head.

In order to defend otherkin/therians or show how things are difficult for us, people often talk about being afraid to talk to a therapist about their otherkin-related experiences or problems, because they're afraid they will "be called crazy and be locked up", or "the people in white coats will come and give them a big injection".

I understand why people say this, because being a neurodiversity minority or being seen as one is very scary, and because they are trying to encourage people to feel sympathy for them. And that's not a bad thing! It is often a question of survival, when you are a minority group, to encourage people to feel sympathy for you. And though otherkin are not at risk of being attacked on the streets (usually, though I have heard of it happening), it can still be a question of survival, if it makes a difference between being constantly mocked, humiliated and harassed away from your social spaces to the point that you feel suicidal, and having a few people in the world who understand.

But, I think this also can cause problems. Because it supports a false idea of psychological treatment and what psychologists/doctors do, that doesn't actually exist. And that idea is damaging to otherkin (and other neurodivergent people) in many ways.

It's damaging because, if otherkin say that they are scared of being locked up and injected, then it supports a belief in the general population that "people get locked up and injected for being crazy". In fact, it's very hard to get "locked up" in America for mental health reasons, particularly for longer than 72 hours, and even then you are usually only put in a hospital if you are showing that you are dangerous to your self or other people. (There's a book called 72 Hour Hold that is a really good exploration of this, if you're interested. It's fiction, but it is strongly based on real marginalized American communities.) The idea of people who live in an "asylum" is just not true today in America, though it exists in other countries.

This also adds to the popular (false) belief that the mental health system is actually effective at making "crazy" people be "not crazy". We have an idea in our heads that if someone is "crazy", which can mean something as small as "having strange beliefs" or "not fitting in with society", then there are mental health services that will treat these people with powerful chemicals that stop them being "crazy" and make them think like "normal" people, and if they can't do that then they lock them up.

This leads to an idea that there are no real people with mental illness in our society, and no real "strange" people, because they are all locked up. And, if they're not, they should "go and get help", so they either will be locked up, or they will be given medications until they stop being "crazy".

This is not how mental illness works, and it's not how having strange beliefs works. Even if someone has a mental illness that negatively affects their life, and that they want to treat, you can't just go and "get help" and be fixed. For some things and for some people, treatment doesn't exist, and for other things, it's a long process of finding the doses that work for you and help to control, but not completely remove, your symptoms. And, with things like otherkin which are completely based on theories about your self, and don't actually involve any delusions, you definitely can't be "treated" for it. Normal is a social idea that is different in every time and place, and so there is no medication that will magically make you "normal", because it isn't a real state that exists.

Psychologists know this, and they won't lock up otherkin. Otherkin are more in danger of being laughed at, told they are not serious, and treated negatively/abusively by a therapist than they are of being locked up.

It's important to spread this truth, because otherwise we add to the impression in people's minds that otherkin and people with mental illnesses

a) are the same thing
b) can be magically cured by psychologists, or else they are locked up
c) don't really live among us in society, because of b), so we don't need to accommodate for them, or talk to them as if they are listening.

(Edit: This comment shares a different perspective that I didn't know, and is worth reading.)

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little swan child

May 2013

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