Questioning Normality

Pathologized Words and Phrases

By Patricia Lefave, Monophrenic

For example, claiming you have been "harmed by others", could be defined as a "symptom" of "mental illness" as an abstract concept, in absolute terms, ONLY if that statement was never true. If it is ever true, then it cannot be pathologized as an abstraction. And yet, that is exactly what bio-psych does. Many people are labelled like the "soup of the day" within ten to fifteen, cost effect minutes after the very first meeting with one of these folks who have unquestioned power and control handed to them, no questions asked, or tolerated, from you, and its perfectly legal. There is no other doctor (or profession for that matter,) that has this kind of legal power which exists outside of laws and constitutions, and is, in large part, far beyond the reach of lawyers, or police investigations, or complaints of human rights violations. The system is constructed in a way that protects itself. If this does not set off any alarm bells for you, it should. If the reason it does not is because, like one of the psych students in my city put it, "I know I could never get a psychiatric label because I am not sick..."

perhaps you should rethink your assumptions and look at what you just said in psychiatric terms. "Claiming" that you are "not sick" is one of the symptoms of BEING "sick." When you say that to your friend on the bus who nods in agreement with you, it means one thing. But what if someone in your family thought you were acting a bit "weird" lately and you were saying that to a psychiatrist? Can you be sure that s/he would accept that from you at face value, even though s/he has been taught NEVER to accept anything you say at face value?

Can you sense "the circle" beginning to form around you in a snare-like manner? Well if not, by the time you do and start talking about "circles" or being "trapped" or the "Matrix" (and all the similar concepts in that) it will be too late, and not only that, your analogies and metaphors have also all been pathologized and defined as meaningless in any terms other than that of "mental illness"... a real physical illness "just like diabetes." So even the meaning of the experience with your psychiatrist is about to take a nasty turn for the worse. If you suggest that your psychiatrist does not understand, or has it wrong, you may well become defined as suffering from "grandiosity" as you can be sure the term will not be applied to him or her.

Before any of us ever walk in the door of the "help," the help has a preconceived notion of who we are, and why we are there, and they tend to make us "fit" into their belief system. That is not so different of course to what all human beings do. We see, hear and understand things based on beliefs and personal experience but what makes this situation so different is POWER and a lack of genuine two way communication between the psychiatrist and the psychiatrized. In this "dyad" (relationship between two people) one of the sides holds all the unquestioned power over the other and that in itself changes the power dynamic behind the attempt at genuine communication and the possible outcome(s). This is about the imposition of belief and wills, and for many of us that IS the problem and may have been our problem with someone else, before we ever walked in the door.

An example of what I mean is this:

The "identified" patient tells the psychiatrist, "I have been set up to appear to be something I am not and I am being attacked by others for it."

Since psychiatrists are trained not to take anything the "patient" says "at face value," s/he then looks for the hidden meaning behind the words and looking for it finds exactly what s/he has been taught s/he SHOULD find.

(there is a certain level of absurd humour in this of course since the same people tell us that "if you find yourself looking for "hidden meaning" it is a sign that you need an anti-psychotic." (stifled laugh)

The fact remains though that when someone has a preconceived idea of who you are and what you MEAN, when that is not who you are or what you mean, power becomes a big part of the predictable outcome. This is not like a 'disagreement' you have with an equal. This can be a power struggle of a kind you could experience nowhere else, with no one else. There is an assumption which is part of the relationship that often mirrors a relationship the I.P. has had before with someone. That assumption is that the psychiatrist is always "right" and the patient is always wrong whenever s/he does not AGREE with the psychiatrist. After all, could someone defined as "mentally ill" possibly understand anything better than a psychiatrist? Of course not!

There is a reason the opinions of those in agreement with bio-psych are the people bio psych promotes and the ones the public gets to see in the T.V. ads. It is much easier to be right all the time if those who disagree with you need only have their disagreement "diagnosed" out of the picture. This is also about a common group phenomenon...keeping up appearances. It is all too often how everything looks and sounds that matters, and not how it IS. Many of us want you to know how it IS and we want that to matter the most because how it is, is how the world really runs and that determines the ultimate outcome that affects each and every human being on this planet one way or another.

Communication Problems

Many of us have serious problems in communication with our psychiatrists. Words are inadequate at the best of times when real communication comes from mutual repespect and honest attempts to convey meaning. Language and meaning becomes a serious problem in situations where there is an imbalance of power and PERCEIVED worth.

I came to recognize that what I often meant was not what psychiatrists were hearing. What they heard was very often what they expected to hear in just the way they expected to hear it.

We may BOTH have agreed that I was "sick" for example, but I was saying I was sick from an interaction with others and an external problem while my psychiatrist was viewing me as a self contained "illness"[1] without relationship to other people involved, circumstances or external reality. Beliefs change MEANING and can create utter chaos and confusion, where there is no REAl communication taking place.

If you are one of those who has similar experiences and thoughts on this topic, please consider joining us on the Let's Talk Back Forum.

[1] Like diabetes......


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For more information and inquiries, contact:
Patricia, Site Owner

How to Use These Public Posting Boards

We can use these public boards as a means of collective contact amongst psychiatric survivour/ex mental patients. 

(Interacting with the non- psychiatrized as well where appropriate) As with all sites like mine, this is a good way to get out of psycho-social isolation, feel connected to those with similar experiences, and to share what helps and what does not.

Please remember that this one is a PUBLIC board so that anyone can see what you have to say. I personally have access to your addresses and e-mails when you register but you do not have to use your real name or otherwise expose your identity. The server owner also has access to anything you post here as well but it will not be used in any way UNLESS you say something that is breaking the laws.

I want to keep my ‘G’ rating so that a ten year old could read this without blushing, feeling frightened or learning new words that would shock even me as an old lady... so watch your way of expressing yourself please. I do not have a lot of time on line so if anyone notices a problem with any posts please bring it to my attention by sending me an e-mail directing me, by title, to the problem post. E-mail me at:

Remove the word SPAMAWAY and close the space.

Please download the two PDF files below regarding how to use the boards and the software.

1.   Posting in the First Person Singular Style

This one is about the simple method of use

2.   Registering, Signing in and Using the Software

This one is about the physical use of the site software and gives a step by step direction.

Both are in the PDF files below and can be downloaded to a computer, flash drive or opened and read online here.

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Who Defines the Normal and Why?
The Focus on this interactive page is going to be on the perspective we don't hear much about: the Normal group member and his or her role in the design and diagnosis of the assigned illness, given to the individual who gets psychiatrized, often for 'complaining' about his/her experience with 'others' as well as the Normal's function as a part of a Normal group.

Here we will shift the focus OFF of the psychiatrized one and ONTO the group as a whole, and some of its other members in particular.


I believe we need to take another look at 'Normal' and how it all got to be considered to BE 'Normal. In doing so we may just find that a whole lot of what is now considered to be 'Normal' might better be described as 'common' or ‘habit.' Longstanding dysfunctional relating for example is very often called “Normal' by those who are used to it, who want to stay 'popular' in their group by keeping silent, or who “don't want to make waves “in the name of “getting along.” Often of course, those who are “getting along” are not really “getting along” with everyone and are part of a well practised scapegoating system. 

So if you have some stories of your “Normal' experiences, this is the page for that.


As usual on these pages, please follow the few simple rules of communication and talk about; ideas or experiences generally, your own personal experiences without naming proper names, your feelings, your experiences  of the mental illness system, good or bad, in relation to your own personal experience with it.  Keep it connected on this page though to defining and questioning what is considered to be “Normal” thinking and behaviour. Do NOT name names, as this is a public board and liability laws apply. Keeping your sharing in the first person singular and/or in relation to ideas or concepts allows you to have your say and keeps you and me, safe from harm or legal problems at the same time.


Above is the PDF Copy of the practical use of the Bulletin Board and how the software at this site works for you personally. 

To use this Board you DO have to register to this site in just the same way you do in any support group BUT this discussion is not closed to the public.