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Friday, July 31, 2009


Deftly done. I agree with you. Where angels fear to tread, who are we mere mortals to think that anyone can do a drive by diagnosis and formulate a solution to such a complicated situation?

My son had a friend in kindergarten who also was electively mute. His poor family had to endure endless advice and armchair psychologizing by teachers, other parents and the like who looked with beady judging eyes at the family and tried to pin blame or causality on somebody. But it was incredibly interesting watching his face and the expressions that would race across his face in the midst of people I would wonder and wonder how and why he decided to stop speaking. Sometimes it seemed as if he wanted to, but could not. As if a silence taken up for some powerful reason once had taken on a life of its own and now choked words starting up, as a vacuum snuffs out a flame.

I think the systems stuff is still very valuable IF (and it is a huge if) it can be used with a family as a tool to understand and help change a tangled mess of a situation. But not to blame. The value of using language about a system (when skillfully done)rather than assigning blame to one individual for this, another for that, is that one can balance and honor the simultaneous existence of good if befuddled family members, appalling family problems, and troubled kid, who becomes the symptom bearer, the scapegoat, the family hero. The concept of the role shifting within a family from person to person is useful, also.

Retriever, I love the comment. Very insightful.

Also, what an interesting experience. I thoroughly support keeping this particular interaction a secret though. It seems as if what is going on is working for the family, so who are you to butt in. I do have questions about the actualization of the young woman involved, but as a mental health worker I think that it would be entangling you in more than you would want to or could ethically handle appropriately.

Thanks, Dr. X, retriever, and Anna for this fascinating discussion. I'll be mulling your story and ideas for days.

Interesting read--all three of the posts thus far. I worry about people making psychological diagnoses from afar, as you described with Obama and Palin in the first post. I also worry about how family members make diagnoses of other family members, even when they have only the knowlege from pop psychology to do so. I am currently the object of one of my sister's attempts to do so--though this time she has stopped at calling me 'mentally ill'. (Ours was a strange and weird family to grow up in--which is less unusual than I previously thought). And it is disconcerting each time this happens. I think she genuinely wants to fix what she considers to be my "problems" but I am not amenable to being fixed, and I have taken care of my problems in other ways. Nor do I think I am mentally ill, except in the sense of 'the whole world is crazy except for me and thee, and sometimes I wonder about thee'.
Anyway, I see this kind of "pop-psychologizing", (public and private) as attempts to make trouble for them pure and simple, and I think it is irresponsible and more damaging to discourse about the issues than helpful to it.

Although lately I have become so tired of snark, I found the actual message(s) of your posts very timely and thought provoking. I will be interested to see where you take this.

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