1. You can talk of any bad thing that happened to you except

2. That first hospitalization

3. When your sense of what was safe and what wasn’t safe in the world

4. Was broken and

5. Never reassembled, so that

6. Now

7. Nothing is safe in the world

8. No one is looking out for you

9. You can’t escape

10. Danger


Totalitarian fear

1. Talking about the terror with my analyst is like dissolving a large stone stuck at the top of my esophagus.

2. Terror put into words and heard by another is less terrifying.

3. Terror festers in the isolated mind.

4. We revisit early places.

5. We tread the same dark floors and now she is with me.

6. She tells me it’s okay to lose my shit with her. She tells me I don’t have to be stoic or brave.

7. She tells me the bodies of children.

8. She says “children.”

9. She says I see you.

10. I am scared of this country.

11. It took few months of me even being here for the mental health center of my university to take a restraining order against me.

12. Never been violent a day in my life.

13. Never thought of myself as anything but kind.

14. It took them a year to lock me up in a psych unit for the sin of being in pain.

15. I expected help.

16. They promised me help.

17. At my intake interview the nurse was icy. I knew, then.

18. At my second interview I smiled and the person said, icily, it’s not funny.

19. My third interview was at 3 AM. The psychiatrist banged hard on my door and said Let’s go.

20. That was the last time I slept.

21. Can you survive five days of absolute terror and no food or sleep?

22. They told me they would help me.

23. My friends said, Trust the doctor.

24. I had never been so misjudged, so disbelieved, so humiliated and summarily abused before.

25. By everyone.

26. I counted for nothing.

27. I was a nuisance.

28. No one helps anyone here.

29. They violate you they tie you up they punish you and your sin is you were in pain.

30. I hurt no one.

31. I did nothing bad I swear.

32. A poet calls her time in the psych hospital “totalitarian fear.”

33. I didn’t grow up here. I know this is not normal. I know this happens nowhere else. I know there are places where those with power are humans like you. I know it’s the majority of places.

34. This country is founded in blood and the tying up of brown, black, occasionally white bodies.

35. Lynchings and picnics.

36. Lynchings and families.

37. Nowhere else my friend.


You can never

1. Every time I see any info at all about the Coronavirus I have a feeling of great longing. I know it’s selfish. I know many will suffer. But I long to catch it and die.

2. There are so many ways to die and many, many ways to keep living.

3. Hope: Every Black artist who did art in America during legal segregation. Everyone who does art at all while part of a group that is targeted by hate. (Jackie McLean was the son of a mixed Black-White couple, I think; I like the title of this album). (Psychoanalysis is art).

Cover of Jackie McLean's Let Freedom Ring.

4. Hope: My dog near me when I wake up in the morning.

White American bulldog curled up in bed, asleep, very close to me taking her picture.

5. Hope: Anne Carson’s playfully stating something and immediately undermining it, because life is too serious a business to be encapsulated by platitudes. Ex:

"You can never know enough, never work enough, never use the infinitives and participles oddly enough, never impede the movement harshly enough, never leave the mind quickly enough.
From Short Talks

6. As long as psychiatry

  • Is rooted in power imbalance
  • Is predicated on patients’ inability to judge for themselves what they want/need
  • Is financed by pharmaceutical companies and regularly uses pharma-controlled (mis)information, to the point that APA’s conferences are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies (!)
  • Is coercive and regularly uses law enforcement, in a unholy alliance of medicine and police/judicial authority, to wit:
    • involuntary hospitalization in psychiatric units (coercion breeds abuse, invariably)
    • involuntary drugging inside those facilities (even when drugging is oral, patients have to demonstrate they have taken the drug or be punished)
    • use of punishments/rewards (“privileges”) in such facilities
    • the patients cannot leave of their own volition, and when they leave they might have to abide by physician-dictated guidelines (stealthy parole)
    • forced outpatient treatment, including
      • forced ECT and forced use of antipsychotic medication, which is court mandated and enforced by police (court hearings are nominally democratic but the voice of the patient is invariably overruled by the voice of the physician
      • forced attendance of day hospital (see above re: psych hospital’s overt and non-overt abuse of patients’ human rights)
    • The police are deployed to people who express mental distress and are deemed “a danger to themselves,” often with intense traumatization and brutality.
    • The phrase “danger to themselves” is a meaningless and authoritarian construct used solely to give some people power to dismiss and abuse some other people. It is often coupled, with or without reason, with “danger to others.”

it is an oppressive system and it must be resisted.