Archive for November, 2013

Other Voices, Other Rooms

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

One of the things that I find so interesting is how our lives are shaped and based on where and with whom we spend them.  After all, that’s what life is: it’s a series of rooms.  And who we get caught up with in those rooms ultimately shapes and informs the direction and definition of our lives; gives them form and function.  Life is series of interspatial relationships, both internally and externally.  Some we hold close, others we hold at arm’s length.  Within each of us we have certain places where we keep things and go to in certain times.  They vary in shape, size, scope, color, and function; they consist of barriers, buffers, points of intersection, and overlap.  All of them however have the same value: they give our lives depth and dimension.  There are some places where we keep vaults; some where we keep joy; and others where we keep painful wounds that beggar description.  Some spaces are open, some closed, and some that are half-open depending on the situation.  One prime example of this comes to mind, our campus.  Our campus consists of a series of structures, each retaining a set of characteristics that make it distinctive and unique, each possessing its own unique form and function.  Just like our campuses people.  What may appeal and work for some may not always work for others.  But there is always a room for someone to carve out a space where they feel whole.  Nothing with any real meaning is one-dimensional.  Not even people!  There are no absolutes when it comes to the human mind.

http://www.amazon.com/Asylum-Inside-Closed-Mental-Hospitals/dp/0262013495/ref=pd_ybh_4

McLean & Monroe: Twins?

Monday, November 11th, 2013

“A gambler with a system must be, to a greater or lesser extent, insane.”                              ~George Augustus Sala

If you read the charter for Mclean Hospital and read it’s statement of values it is curious to note how closely it mirrors the statement of community values we see posted on every wall of every room in Monroe Hall.  I sometimes feel that I am lost in the funhouse.  Living through what is altogether a formidable, fascinating, frustrating, indeed fun experience.

http://mclean.harvard.edu/about/values/

McLean & Monroe: Twins?

Monday, November 11th, 2013

“A gambler with a system must be, to a greater or lesser extent, insane.”                              ~George Augustus Sala

If you read the charter for Mclean Hospital and read it’s statement of values it is curious to note how closely it mirrors the statement of community values we see posted on every wall of every room in Monroe Hall.  I sometimes feel that I am lost in the funhouse.  Living through what is altogether a formidable, fascinating, frustrating, indeed fun experience.

http://mclean.harvard.edu/about/values/

K-PAX Clips

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

“We are each on our own journey; each of us are on our very own adventure
encountering all kinds of challenges, and the choices we make on that adventure
will shape us as we go. Those choices will stretch us and test us and push us to
our limit, and our adventure will make us stronger than we ever knew we could
be. There’s a quote by my favorite author Joseph Campbell, and it goes like
this: ‘Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the
pain.” ~ Penelope “Baby Girl” Garcia, Criminal Minds

“My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: ‘In our sleep,
pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own
despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”              ~Robert F. Kennedy, The Eve of Martin Luther King’s Jr.’s Assassination, April 4, 1968

1.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_pVOM3OIwM ; 2.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHhtl82GsCo

K-PAX: Probing Prot’s Psyche

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

“There is no witness so dreadful, no accuser so terrible as the conscience that dwells in the heart of every man.” ~ Polybius

Precisely 1,000 light years away in the Lyra constellation, in a completely different solar system from Earth, is an extraterrestrial planet called K-PAX.  Or so a patient by the name of Prot (rhymes with goat) tells us.  This film revolves around the story of a man claiming to be an alien life form known as a K-Paxian named Prot.  Prot is picked up in an airport terminal and admitted to the Manhattan Psychiatric Institute where his case is overseen by Dr. Mark Powell, the Chief of Clinical Psychiatry.  Through a series of clinical approaches, personal exchanges, and research, Dr. Powell seeks to understand what has led his patient to regress to a delusional psychotic state.  Or so he assumes.

To describe the particular facilities as they are presented within this film, the Manhattan Psychiatric Institute offers a state of the art facility.  It offers treatment and shelter to a variety of different patients.  The atmosphere is such that it offers an environment within which patients can not only function, but feel a sense of that they can improve their lives and the lives of others through interaction.  In essence, relating with others offers a window into which we can better understand ourselves and enhance our productivity.  While there exist this perpetual tension between balancing the needs of the various individuals with the shared needs of the group, and the larger external society as a whole, there is still an emphasis on the idea that an individual’s treatment depends upon his own uniquely individual situation.  Whether its medications, activities, talking, or hypnosis.  The courses of treatment that this institute offers emphasize not only medical but also moral treatment.  That is the idea that you stimulate mental health by stimulating the character of the individual.  They apparently have laboratories that are among the best equipped.  As well as special rooms for clinical sessions where the patients and their analysts can discuss their issues while being observed and monitored by physicians’ assistants.  All in all, a rather healthy place for both personal and scientific evaluation and enhancing understanding of the human condition.

What I find fascinating about this film is the way in which it seeks to explore the moral implications and consequences of the seeing behind the veil of the subconscious.  Recently, we discussed Freud’s view that the way to work through a traumatic experience and enable yourself to move forward is to face it and take ownership of it.  That way you own your experience and it doesn’t take control of your life.  Personally, it is my contention that when you experience something so horrible you can’t handle it your psyche in order to protect you, rather to preserve your sanity, insulates you from the trauma.  Some might ask, “What kind of logic is that?”  I would argue that it’s entirely logical.  When we experience, or perceive, a threat which is so overwhelming, devastating, that our psyche can’t handle it we simply concede that it just did not happen.  We just can’t believe that it is so.  The question then is who is the best person to judge what is right for you?  Is it better to remember consciously that one day you came home and found that your wife and daughter had been raped and murdered and then snapped the neck of the man who did it?  Or is it better to have a psychotic break and regress to a delusional state which permits you to function in a productive way?  Ultimately, who has the right to decide what is best for you when it comes to having to learn to live with something that others may be able to appreciate, but can never fully grasp when they have not lived that for themselves?  Something that cannot be explained but rather only experienced in order to be understood.  C.S. Lewis wrote, “Experience is a brutal teacher.  But you learn—my God, do you learn.”  But as Ernest Hemingway also said, “The world breaks everyone and in the end many are stronger in the broken places.”  While I don’t doubt the wisdom of either of these thoughts, I prefer to remind myself of the latter.  If you only focus on the former, you end up digging yourself ever deeper into a hole that you can’t climb out of.  And if you’re not careful you just may end up digging yourself six feet under.  Death is simple, life is not!