~ Amenti Rama ~
Reclaim your mind: Manifesto
Urgent message for all those who have or are in danger of being labelled mentally ill
Selling cures for the problems they created
It is well known that depression has been on a steady rise in the past
few decades. This increase apparently isn't about to stop since the
World Health Organization (WHO) recently predicted that, by 2020,
depression would be the second most prevalent health problem in the
world, just below heart disease, and offered as an explaination that
this was due to a previous underestimation of the number of people
suffering from this "illness".
Couldn't the increasing feeling of emptiness and worthlessness
characteristic of depression be related to the society we live in, at a
time when people lose themselves in consumption and mass entertainement
to avoid thinking about their miserable life, their economic survival
or the ongoing destruction of the planet? While the "experts" paid by
pharmacology corporations will invariably answer that depression is a
brain disorder due to a "chemical imbalance", the result of some faulty
genes they have yet to identity, we cannot help to wonder how this
could not be environmental considering there was no such thing as
depression in Africa before colonization?
Depression has widely been touted as endemic to the
20-something generation. Severe depression is 10 times more prevalent
today than it was 50 years ago, and it strikes a full decade earlier in
life on average than it did a generation ago. Such feelings and
behaviours testify to frustration and despair that have nowhere to go
when the social landscape is so frozen. Disaffection or even opposition
are quickly marketed into salable style images; alienation as fashion.
Meanwhile suicide, perhaps the ultimate regressions, has been on a
steady rise for several decades.
- John Zerzan
At best depression is considered as a necessary side-effect of
"progress" -- just like civilian murders are a "collateral damage" of
war -- but "experts" always affirm that more scientific research is the
only solution to the problem. Until these mythical genes have been
found and we can all live in the promised techno-virtual "paradise" as
genetically-modified human beings, the pharmacology industry is of
course delighted to sell drugs to help humanity deal with its "chemical
imbalances", just like we are sold bottled water to "solve" the problem
of water pollution.
A brave new world?
Unfortunately if they discover a perfect drug to remove all the
symptoms of depression and stress, they won't stop here. As it is
becoming increasingly clear, their interest is not happiness and
well-being of the whole of humanity, as they promise, but "progress"
and the on-going technological race. Such a drug would in reality be an
opportunity to increase the demands of society and the stress- and
depression-inducing effects of our environment. Our dependency on drugs
will force in turn others to use them to be able to compete and survive.
Imagine a society that subjects people to conditions
that make them terribly unhappy, then gives them the drugs to take away
their unhappiness. Science fiction? It is already happening to some
extent in our own society. Instead of removing the conditions that make
people depressed, modern society gives them antidepressant drugs. In
effect, antidepressants are a means of modifying an individual's
internal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate social
conditions that he would otherwise find intolerable.
- Theodore Kaczynski
While until recently society had to adapt to the limits of human
beings, the situation has been reversed and it's now human beings who
have to adapt to society. Is that their idea of a "perfect world"? And
more importantly, is that yours?
Since this essential question never generates any debate in mainstream
media, it seems that pharmacology corporations have already answered
for us. Using the false promises of consumerism -- "our product will
solve all your problems and make you feel fullfilled just like these
idealized images you see on our ads" -- the sales of anti-depressants
has increased by 800% in the 90's alone. They now claim that one
american out of five, a market of over 50 millions people, "needs a
cure urgently". Is it urgent because people are finally waking up and
they need to be plugged back into the Matrix of illusion before they
see the desert of the real world they live in?
The myth of permanent happiness
One effect of the excessive marketing from the pharmacology industry,
and the many other industries promoting "health" as a value, is the
creation of an unique ideal that everyone is supposed to cling to.
These "fullfilled" consumers we see on ads have become, consciously or
unconsciously, some kind of role models for most of us. They make us
believe that permanent happiness is possible, the biggest myth of them
Suffering is a misunderstanding. It exists. It's
real. I can call it a misunderstanding, but I can't pretend that it
doesn't exist, or will ever cease to exist... There are times I -- I am
very frightened. Any happiness seems trivial. And yet, I wonder if it
isn't all a misunderstanding -- this grasping after happiness, this
fear of pain... If instead of fearing it and running from it, one could
get through it, go beyond it. I don't know how to say it. But I believe
that the reality of pain is not pain. If you can endure it all the way.
- Ursula Le Guin
Human beings, like any conscious organisms, are dualistic by nature. We
can't know the sweet without knowing the sour. We can't experience
happiness without experiencing sadness. With our attempt to eliminate
sadness, with our obsession for positivism, we have only found
emotional death. This is the way someone suffering from depression
feels. In fact, it could be argued that a depressive person is
different from a "normal" person only in her awareness of the poverty
of her emotional life. Too afraid of terror, we have become unable to
feel joy. To be able to go beyond that, pain should be embraced like
any other feelings.
Chagrin, shame, fear, terror, anger are transient madness.
- Benjamin Rush, father of American psychiatry
Individuals labelled with manic-depression (bipolar disorder), on the
other hand, experience both states intensely. While mania is accepted
and even promoted by our society (think about shopping sprees), the
depressive episodes are frowned upon. Take a minute and ask yourself:
is this intensity necessarily bad for the person or is it a problem
only because it doesn't fit in the myth of permanent happiness promoted
by modern society? Yes, manic-depression cause suffering and makes it
difficult to live a "normal" life, but isn't it also a way to
experience life more deeply?
Normality vs. diversity
What we observe is that, while some problems such as depression and
stress seem to be the result of our decadent mental landscape, other
states of mind have become a problem only because they don't fit within
the grand schemes of civilization, where normality makes it easier to
enforce "order". They use cultural differences for marketing purpose
but in the end everyone is supposed to buy the same products and have
the same desires: a stable income, an happy family, a nice house, a
perfectly-sized body, a great confidence. Those who can afford it have
"choices", but they are mostly limited to different tastes, such as the
color of their car.
Yet diversity is essential for the survival of any eco-system. If
nature has survived until our "conquest", it's because of this
biological diversity. If the climate or environment changed, some
species would die but others would survive, making it possible for
evolution to continue. When civilization will have reduced cows to one
"perfect" race, it will only require one virus to kill them all.
What interests us most though is diversity amongst human beings. We see
that society doesn't support this simply by the way public schools
work: all children have to follow the same subjects, regardless of
their interests, and even if at the end of compulsory school they can
"choose" between different careers, this is because of the needs of the
job marketplace only. As a result a lot of teenagers finish school
alienated from their initial aspirations and struggle to find a job
which interests them.
Disorders as differences
Let's now look at some other widespread "mental illnesses" from the
point of view that they are more a difference, part of the diversity of
any ecosystem, than a disorder:
* Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is
a particularly sad example of the world we live in: many children are
unable to stay all day long in these prisons called "schools" because
they have too much energy and creativity. "Concerned" about their
future in this society, influenced by psychiatrists, their parents feed
them with Ritalin, sometimes since the age of 4, to numb them down and
kill their flame. They fit again in the illusion of normality, but does
that makes them happier?
* Schizophrenia is often mentionned when talking
about mental illnesses for it can be deeply disturbing and very long.
To understand this "illness" we should take a look at "primitive"
cultures: in all of them, we can find shamans who had the gift to
travel on the "other world" and heal people. The initiation was
involuntary (although young shamans could be identified early by their
tribes) and required several deeply disturbing years until the shaman
was able to master his or her skills. What's interesting is that the
effects of this initiation are extremly similar to the "symptoms" of
schizophrenia. Indeed some primitive tribes were fooled by western
psychiatrists that their future shaman was "schizophrenic" and had to
be medicated. Unfortunately it appears that anti-psychotic drugs
prevent the process to be finished, in such a way that the individual
gets lost in the void between the two worlds.
* People are increasingly put under the label of
Asperger's syndrome or highly-functionning autism. Individuals
diagnosed with this "disorder" usually have a high IQ and no impairment
other than a difficulty to interact and communicate with others. We
suggest that their isolation and obsessive thinking may set them apart
and make communication more difficult (or less meaningful) as they are
not on the same wavelenght as others. That doesn't have to be a
disadvantage though: some psychiatrists have in fact recently
"back-diagnosed" Newton and Einstein with Asperger's syndrome. The
question is: would these two geniuses have delivered their wisdom if
they had been labelled as autistic and medicated in their youth?
* Social anxiety is also on the rise. Apart from the
fact it's easy to become self-conscious about our behavior and look
when we live in a society which judge everyone on their appearance,
it's worth mentionning that amongst all animals a percentage of them
are naturally shy. Shy animals have greater chances of survival since
their fears put them less at risk. For human beings, shyness may make
it more difficult to be part of society but it's also a great
opportunity to develop inner capabilities that others, too busy
socializing, don't have the time to care about.
What we observe is that most of the pain felt by "mentally ill"
individuals is caused more by a rejection of society than by the
"illness" itself. Alienation, loneliness, homelessness, low self-esteem
are all the destructive results of a society which doesn't tolerate
differences. Furthmore, the belief that there is something "wrong" that
has to be "corrected" (or at least repressed) can only alienate people
from themselves and make them feel miserable and worthless. Indeed
almost all of these "illnesses" are usually coupled with depression.
Our society tends to regard as a "sickness" any mode
of thought or behavior that is inconvenient for the system, and this is
plausible because when an individual doesn't fit into the system it
causes pain to the individual as well as problems for the system. Thus
the manipulation of an individual to adjust him to the system is seen
as a "cure" for a "sickness" and therefore as good.
- Theodore Kaczynski
Healing or repression?
All this makes us wonder if psychiatrists and psychologists are really
interested in healing or if their role is to keep the illusion of
"order", "normality" and "sanity" within society? Indeed the primary
goals of asylums has always been to keep the "insanes" outside of
society because they were considered "dangerous". But how are they
dangerous considering that there is statistically the same amount of
criminals amongst the "sanes" than amongst the "insanes"? Is it perhaps
because they do not fit in society and their mere existence exposes the
lies of this system?
It's interesting to note that, before the appearance of asylums,
heretics, witches, prostitutes, madmen and basically anyone "socially
deviant" were being "treated" (tortured, exorcised, burnt) by the
Inquisition and, when the Church started to lose its power, some of the
witch-hunters "converted" to psychiatry and kept on doing basically the
same job, using pseudoscience instead of religion to put themselves
above the possessed/mentally ill and try to adjust them to society's
standards. These standards change enormously through time and space.
For example, homosexuality was considered to be a disorder by the bible
of psychiatry, the DSM, until the 70's.
Curiously, many psychiatrists today believe that witches were
"misdiagnosed", that they were in fact "suffering" of "mental illness",
not "demonic possession". They are the only ones who don't believe in
the theory of the scapegoat (a figure whom the fears -- or repressed
desires -- of society are projected on), agreed by all historians.
Could it be because this theory also applies perfectly for the
"mentally ills" of today?
The ones suffering the most from psychiatry are perhaps the children,
who do not have choices regarding their medication because they are not
supposed to be "responsible" enough. Apart from ADHD and Asperger's
syndrome mentionned previously, the label of "Oppositional Defiant
Disorder" offers a convenient explaination for parents who do not want
to understand why their children are rebelling against their oppressive
ideology and pointless consumer lifestyle. For these parents,
medication appears to be the only "solution", especially if they are
themselves victims of the psychiatric industry.
Psychiatry as political repression
More striking cases of how the myth of "mental illness" has been used
by the system for repression include the Soviet Union where political
dissenters were regularly "diagnosed" as "mentally ill" and confined in
asylums. Similar repression was done in the USA where socially deviants
were locked -- such as Timothy Leary for advocating the use of
"illegal" drugs. And as recently as April 2003 someone who was reading
and talking about conspiracy theories within the US government was
diagnosed as "paranoid" and held in an asylum for 9 days!
The excess of the passion for liberty produced, in
many people, opinions and conducts which could not be removed by reason
not retrained by governement... The extensive influence which these
opinions had upon the understandings, passions, and morals of many of
the citizens of the United States, constituted a form of insanity,
which I shall take the liberty of distinguishing by the name of
- Benjamin Rush, father of American psychiatry
Just like new laws are constantly added to create new classes of
criminals and force people into an ever-narrowing range of legality,
new mental disorders are "discovered" all the time to create new
classes of "insanes", open new markets for the pharmacology industry
and force people into an ever-narrowing range of "sanity". Actually,
the "symptoms" of mental disorders -- the only things on which the
existence of these "disorders" are based on -- are so broad and common
that anyone could be "diagnosed" with 2-3 of them by just visiting a
We need a program of psychosurgery and political
control of our society. The purpose is physical control of the mind.
Everyone who deviates from the given norm can be surgically mutilated.
The individual may think that the most important reality is his own
existence, but this is only his personal point of view. This lacks
historical perspective. Man does not have the right to develop his own
mind. This kind of liberal orientation has great appeal. We must
electrically control the brain. Some day armies and generals will be
controlled by electrical stimulation of the brain.
- Dr. Jose Delgado
This quote, coming from a psychiatrist who was recruited by the CIA for
the MKULTRA program of mind control after having served the fascist
regime in Spain, could not be more explicit. This obsession for control
is nothing new for the male-driven civilization we live in, and
controlling the human mind is no doubt their biggest challenge. They
dream to kill the animal (the life-force) in us, to finally transform
us into perfect machines working exclusively in the name of "progress".
The founding father of American psychiatry, Benjamin Rush, even
considered insanes as "untamed animals whom it is the psychiatrist's
duty to discipline", a comparison which remind us of the way non-white
people were treated during the colonization.
The reality of medication
Electroshock "therapy" and lobotomy are not as common as a few decades
ago, although the fact these barbaric practices still exist is deeply
revealing of the society we live in. Forced medication has been mostly
replacing them, often with a threat of forced confinment if the drugs
are not taken.
This change is not caused by a new sense of humanity amongst
psychiatrists but by pressures from insurance companies who find it
cheaper to send patients back home with drugs prescriptions, as well as
from the needs of the pharmacology industry to increase its revenues.
Another cause is that people are generally more willing to get "fixed"
but we shouldn't necessarily see voluntary treatment as a progress over
forced one. Indeed, it may just prove that we have been so effectively
brainwashed that we do not resist anymore.
"Of all the tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive"
- C. S. Lewis
Let's have a look at the way these prescription drugs "work". While ads
and psychiatrists explicitely or implicitly claims that they help to
heal, the reality appears different: they work by merely hiding the
"symptoms" and keeping the brain quiet. Once the drugs have finished
their effects, the individual is on the same situation as before or
even worse, since all antipsychotic drugs can damage the brain after
several months or years of "treatment", a phenomenon known as tardive
dyskinesia. All of them are strongly addictive as well.
So we see that drugs do nothing other than keeping an artificial state
in the brain which makes things more bearable for the individual. There
is nothing wrong with that, considering that some mental disorders are
deeply disturbing and can push to suicide, but it's not fair to tell
people that their medication is going to heal them. Prescription drugs,
like any other drugs, should be used as cautiously as possible and
along with a real treatment, assisted or not by a professional.
Otherwise the person will stay a consumer/victim of the pharmacology
industry all her life. Sadly, this may be what they are hoping for.
The most problematic effect of these drugs, however, is that they often
prevent individuals to go through the natural healing process which
requires a dynamic chaotic void before a healthy restoration is
possible. Real healing is not a slow gradual process, as psychiatrists
would like to believe, but is cyclic, with its lows and its highs,
until the brain has been "purged" from old conditionned neurons and a
new freedom can be found. Unfortunately the people working on the
mental health field don't like anything chaotic so they do all they can
to suppress these "symptoms", preventing at the same time patients to
reach the end of the tunnel.
If a person is lucky enough to be "allowed" to complete the healing
process, it results in a new outlook on her image, life, reality and
society, allowing her to adopt a more healthy lifestyle, perhaps away
from mindless consumerism and weapons of mass distraction like
television. Challenges and difficulties are necessary elements of any
spiritual growth, and what could be more challenging than a mental
"illness" which forces us to understand how our brain work and to
evolve our consciousness in order to be able to keep on living? Our
"disorders" truly are dangerous gifts which should be cultivated and
respected rather than repressed and hated.
Reclaiming our minds
Make no mistake: this lengthy analysis on civilization and psychiatry
is not used to push off our responsibility, to blame all our problems
on others. We are all too eager to finally reclaim our minds! We don't
need "professionals" to tell us how to live, people have found this by
themselves for millions of years, and those "experts" prevent people to
think for themselves, providing instead ready-made explainations for
any difficulty they may encounter in their development.
Either you think -- or else others have to think for
you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural
tastes, civilize and sterilize you.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Victimism leads people to feel that they must have some kind of
professional to help them -- mental health agent, religious leader,
educator, fashion advisor -- because they are incapable of
independently making their own decisions or carrying out their own
activities. This is not the case! We are all capable of finding our way
to healing, it's only the belief that we are not which makes us stuck!
Who can know better than ourselves what's going on in our minds? Our
deep fears, motivations, desires are usually beyond words and they
reach such a deep layer of our reality that few psychiatrist could find
about them, especially not under the pressure of insurance companies to
be more "efficient". The way we think and see the world is entirely
dependant on our past experiences. No one can truly understand us
without re-experiencing our whole life!
The idea is not necessarily to reject psychiatry as a whole but to let
people choose what they feel is best for them, by showing them the
different alternatives available and educating them about the lies of
the mental health industry. Most importantly, we are not looking for an
unique "Truth", we want each individual to understand how their mind
works, seek their own solutions and have the freedom to enact whatever
course of action they feel is best. Self-exploration allows any of us
to evolve from the status of helpless victims to the one of healers.
This is the spirit of do-it-yourself applied to the brain!
Alternatives to traditional "treatments" exist and most have existed
long before a professional class of psychiatrists was created.
Meditation, yoga, magick, self-hypnosis, herbal & nutritional
treatment, cognitive therapy are all useful pieces in our toolboxes.
Most of them also have a holistic point of view, which emphasizes the
importance of the whole and the interdependence of the parts, an idea
most psychiatrists completely rejects!
The solution will not come from above or outside, but from below and
within. Our unconscious wants to help our conscious mind to heal, if
only we listen to it. Changes inevitably happen when we finally take
responsibility for who we are, for our life, for our community, for our
planet, for our future. We aren't fooled anymore by society's
doubletalk which tells us to be "responsible citizens" while asking us
to follow orders from above without questionning. We want real
responsibility and real freedom!
More than healing
At this point something should be clarified: this is not just about
healing, because this idea would suppose there is a plateau to be
reached, a sense of eternal well-being to be found. There isn't any,
except on fairy tales and advertisements. Remember: permanent happiness
is their myth! Spiritual development (or whatever name you prefer to
give it) is in fact an on-going cyclic process where the travel matters
more than the destination.
To be able to travel more freely, you'll want to unload from your
shoulders all the burden of psychiatric conditionning and especially
the idea that there is something wrong with you. As it should be said
more often: you are perfect as you are! You have done your best given
your situation and, even if the path you took until now has been more
difficult than others, this doesn't mean you're a failure! "Normal"
people will have to go through this one day too, or else they will
never have the chance to grow up.
You are what you believe you are. If you insist on believing that you
are a helpless victim of a terrible illness whose salvation lies on the
hands of a few mega-corporations, this is what you'll eventually
experience all your life. What do you want?
They lied to you, sold you ideas of good & evil,
gave you distrust of your body & shame for your prophethood of
chaos, invented words of disgust for your molecular love, mesmerized
you with inattention, bored you with civilization & all its
usurious emotions. There is no becoming, no revolution, no struggle, no
path; already you're the monarch of your own skin -- your inviolable
freedom waits to be completed only by the love of other monarchs: a
politics of dream, urgent as the blueness of sky.
- Hakim Bey
Depending on how many years have been spent on the mental health
industry (or under the judgment of society), changing this belief can
be difficult but it's possible! Pay attentions to your beliefs in your
day-by-day life, play with different paradigms (belief-systems) for a
day, for a week, for a month. Hack into your reality-tunnel and accept
the idea that you are not inferior but simply different, that we are in
fact all different. If you need some inspiration or if you aren't quite
convinced that beliefs have a role to play, read some books on
cognitive therapy, neuro-linguistic programming or chaos magick. It
will forever change the way you view "reality"!
Following our path
Our mind is self-created, it has developed over the years as we were
bouncing on "reality" and other human beings. There is no rigid
structure that every brain follows, even if some models are useful to
understand how we think. As a consequence, we all have completely
different potentials and shortcomings. Instead of focusing on our
"problems", wouldn't it be more sensible to promote our gifts, skills,
desires, sensitivities, so that each one of us make the most of their
potential during their limited lifetime, no matter how different they
are from the current "norms"?
The norms are and have always been illusory anyway. Quantum physics
tell us we are the co-creators of the universe, that the only fact of
observing an object changes its nature and that our "subjective" mind
has a much more important role in reality than most materialists think.
The way we see "reality" and ourselves has more to do with our mental
environment ("the Matrix") than with any kind of materialist reality or
genetic predispositions. If we are able to somehow go beyond the mental
structures of civilization, if we are able to transcend them, then
everything becomes possible!
Man is ignorant of the nature of his own being and
powers. Even his idea of his limitations is based on experience of the
past, and every step in his progress extends his empire. There is
therefore no reason to assign theoretical limits to what he may be, or
what he may do.
- Aleister Crowley
To follow our path, we must first know what we want. We must learn to
listen to our inner voice, our unconscious, our true will, that
something inside of each one of us which intuitively know what's the
best direction to take. This may mean turning off, at least for a
while, all the background noise of civilization, like television,
radio, newspapers and eventually friends. All our conditionned fears,
desires and ideas of our limitations will not go away at the second we
isolate ourselves but we may find meditation valuable to help us in
Two roads diverged in the woods. I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.
- Robert Frost
The creation of a new culture
The saying "none of us is free as long as some are not free" seems more
true than ever in these oppressive times. We can't expect to find joy
and wholeness without changing our environment, without changing the
very structures of reality. Thus any real, profound healing will
necessarily involves a healing of the planet and society as a whole.
The good news is that any change in society is likely to have much more
impact on our lives than any treatment done alone at home! This doesn't
mean we have to create a new classes of professionals who will tell
others how to live, that's the very thing we are opposing! Just like
the position of a teacher over his students automatically prevents any
teaching to occur, the authority of a healer rules out any real
healing. Effective healing is non-hierarchical, with all individuals
healing and being healed at the same time.
We have been staying alone for too long! After too many years of
isolation and alienation, some have given up the hope that someone will
one day truly understand them (as opposed to just being "compassionate"
like their psychiatrist -- if they are lucky). Let's unite and show
them we are here! Actually, let's do a massive exposure and show
society that we have always been here and always will be, that they
can't make us go away and that we are proud of being who we are!
Enough despair, enough division! We need a global movement of
solidarity between us, the "insanes", we need temporary insane zones,
mad pride parades, judgement-free communes, asylums liberations, mad
nomadic circus... the sky is the limit! Changes always come from below
and the old structures of oppression will inexorably fall when we stop
relying on them. We will then finally be able to create a new culture
of mental diversity and solidarity where everyone is accepted (and
loved!) for who they are!
The birth of ReclaimYourSoul.org
Out of this realization is born ReclaimYourSoul.org, a website which
acts both as a support community -- the message board -- and a
repository of ideas, points of views and rants, focused on
do-it-yourself treatments and analyses of the world we live in amongst
many other things. The links section leads you to numerous other places
on the web dealing with the same subject.
The articles and books sections, as well as a new design, are coming
soon. The website as a whole will rely on an open-publishing system,
like IndyMedia.org and many other Internet projects, so that the
structure is strictly horizontal and anyone can easily publish their
ideas and experiences. All points of views are welcome: information
needs to be free!
The most important at the moment is the development of a real support
community with enough contributors to be able to help each others.
Conscious of the limitations and alienating nature of the Internet,
we'll also need help for "offline" projects like propaganda/zines
distribution. If enough people join up, meetings and group activities
like those mentionned earlier could even be possible, which would give
a totally new dimension to the whole project!
So if you want to take part to this new culture, join us! We are waiting for you!
* Author: Ermolai
* First Published On: 06/01/2003
* License: Free Information