I have just read The Dark Threads, by Jean Davison (Accent Press Ltd, 2009)
It’s autobiographical, and describes with great detail and insight how a young woman of 18 years, whose only problem was acute shyness coupled with a yearning for some meaning in life, made the mistake of visiting a psychiatrist.
Jean describes how she was bullied into accepting psychiatric “treatment.” She was drugged into a zombie-like stupor and given electric shock “treatment.” She describes graphically the disempowering and humiliating aspects of “treatment,” and the endless patronizing condescension.
Here are some quotes:
“Cold, black, tunnel days. Days when I slept my time away. Days when a soul-aching darkness engulfed me and sucked me into a void. And days when I switched onto ‘automatic pilot’ behaving like a zombie that had been programmed to make ‘appropriate’ responses. There were times when I feared I might make a crash landing and break into pieces that would be scraped up from the ground, bottled, corked, and labeled and stored away in High Royds where nobody would notice that somewhere pushed down underneath a drugged haze there was a real person; somewhere there was JEAN.” (p 96)
“It had been Dr. Prior’s idea that I registered as a disabled person. It would, he said, help me get a job because the law required employers to take on a certain percentage of disabled people. So now I was the owner of a green card to show to prospective employers as proof of a registered disability. I still couldn’t take it all in. Was that really my name on this card? Who am I now? A disabled person? And mentally disabled too; a highly stigmatized form of disability. Would I always be separate, different from the world of ‘normal’ people who didn’t think or feel like me and didn’t carry a green card?” (p 125)
“I am sick and tired and weary of almost everything I think, say or do being analyzed for signs of illness. Can’t I be happy, sad, laugh, cry or do anything, without being ‘ill’? Will I ever again be able to convince others – or myself – that I am just an ‘ordinary’, ‘normal’ person? Will the scars never heal? When I was eighteen years old, I made the biggest mistake of my life. Will I have to go on paying for it forever?” (p 343)
“How quickly, how easily, and on what flimsy ‘evidence’ diagnostic labels may be affixed and lives torn apart. Yet the serious flaws in the diagnostic process are still seemingly unacknowledged by those with unswerving belief in its scientific validity.” (p 358)
Jean makes it clear that the psychiatric “treatment” she received was not only unhelpful, but made her situation a great deal worse, and essentially stole five years of her life.
The book is compelling reading, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in these matters. As I’ve said many times, it is the survivors who manage to speak out, who ultimately will draw this sad chapter of human history to a close.