Dan Savage’s Column Takes on Disability

20 05 2008

With the help of Cory Silverburg, co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability, Dan takes letters concerning disabled folks. If you haven’t read Dan Savage before, keep in mind that he’s frank about sex, sexual needs, the spectrum of sexuality, etc.

Closer to Home.

19 05 2008

Drastic cuts in the California budget mean that county mental health services could be crippled by next year. Given that many of the mentally ill already live in impoverished conditions despite the wealth of this county, this blow could put even more out on the streets, widening the gap between rich and poor, sane and not.

The writer of this article in the Santa Barbara Independent reflects not only on what the cuts will do to the kinds of services he’s received, but on the inspiration of for The Special Olympics, Rosmary Kennedy, JKF’s sister who received a lobotomy as treatment for her mental illness. Where are we headed now?

The Soloist by Steve Lopez

13 05 2008

The L.A. Times columnist writes a book based on his columns about his intervention with a mentally ill and musically talented homeless man:

And that would have been that, except the response to that first column outstripped anything Lopez had ever written. Offers flooded in from people who wanted to donate cellos and violins to the homeless musician. Lopez was roped into being a conduit for the donations, then into finding a place where Ayers could keep them, then into trying to find a place where Ayers could stay and possibly receive treatment.

Muscular Dystrophy?

12 05 2008

A woman writes about her experience at an MDA (muscular dystrophy event) and her conflicting feeling about how these organizations work. As someone who passes for “normal” more of the time, I’m interested in those with physical disabilities who still struggle to find communities in which they feel welcome. Does this kind of publicity engender pity or understanding? Or both?

Mad Pride

11 05 2008

I had stumbled across one of the organizations mentioned in this article and was reluctant to embrace the term Mad Pride, because the organization itself was anti-medication. I’m not claiming that I’m not conflicted on about the way medication is used to treat mental illness, nor about the lack of frank discussions of side effects. However, I’m wary of embracing illnesses of the mind and proclaiming that mental disorders are simply another sign of genius. However, this statement from a New York Times article sums up my fears eloquently, and the rest of the piece does a nice job laying out a lot of what’s going on in the whole community:
While psychiatrists generally support the mad pride movement’s desire to speak openly, some have cautioned that a “pro choice” attitude toward medicine can have dire consequences.

A Link Between Pollen and Depression?

10 05 2008

A study at pub med seems to confirm that allergens and depression exist in tandem. However, the sample size is so small, that this study clearly needs to be repeated with a larger population and the allergen needs to be expanded from tree pollen. A good start, though.

Yolanda’s Law

7 05 2008

A Massachusetts teen who lobbied for better mental health care for young people ended up succumbing to her disease. However, it may be a watershed moment for addressing and helping children with mental illness.

Language. And Its Impact.

30 04 2008

In a post Yes, It Is Offensive to the Target Group people speak out about terms like retarded, crazy, lame and others.

I have to admit that I originally wasn’t ready to purge lame from my vocabulary as I saw it as a temporal kind of disability that wasn’t necessarily a reflection simply on the human body. But just as “gay” became synomous with “stupid” or “lame” in the late 80s, it should be clear that if “gay” = “lame” then neither term is acceptable. It is a primarily physical term that has morphed its use so that now anything can be considered “lame” without reference to the body.

How about “stupid”? Should that be avoided as well?

A New Format and Blog Title: Mental Illness in the Offing

30 04 2008

Meeting face-to-face has turned out to be incredibly difficult, so I am going to continue on disability topics, but I’m warning you now that I’ll be focusing pretty heavily on mental disability, particularly mental illness. I’ll review articles, link to interesting discussions, and, of course take suggestions, but for now this journal is going to reflect my personal experiences navigating the world with a disorder that can be frustrating, uplifting, paralyzing, inspiring, and submersible (even though it still bubbles up sometimes) with medication.

Body In Pain Notes

3 03 2008

There are lots of questions scattered throughout the following post, and I’d love any thoughts anyone has.

11 physical vs. psychological pain—is there really such a gulf between their expressibility?
description of depression in Infinite Jest

pain and power structure that is only about gov. in this book, but not domestic violence—elided in this book
–many of the processes are the same: controlling the person’s space and time, isolating them, falsely imposing all the responsibility on the victim

12 that almost any other phenomenon occupying the same environment will distract attention from it [pain].
T: I wonder if pain in the late 20th/early 21st century is experienced differently because our lives have become so sanitized. Did it have to be invisible so that one did not succumb?

What about childbirth and the way that its experience has changed? (Gawande on childbirth and the use of forceps, use of which is almost impossible to teach)
–still the most dangerous experience in most women’s lives
–C-sections make the process insurable b/c its much more controllable

We wonder why she focuses on war? The legal narrative and political power surrounding it? What about other traditions of inflicting pain?
E: If you use the definition of a “state” as the entity with a monopoly on violence, does this justify what is NOT in Scarry’s book?

Does she deal with the way in which pain creates and the world but then recedes in memory? 19

are the thoughts of Hamlet and the tragedy of Lear really cathartic in this day and age?
do we identify with them?

Is this book apertainable to disability studies because of the model of power and the way that suffering is stamped on an unwilling victim’s body?

T: I feel like mental disability is not theorized as completely as physical disability in recent theory. However, E had the experience in class when teaching and asking for representations of disability of a list that was almost entirely mental: Girl, Interrupted, Benny and Joon, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, Rain Man. Does this reflect Hollywood trends or simply a belief that physical disability is may be overcome in a way that mental ones can’t?