Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Staffing for Gus

 Several points about today...

Dr. Sharpe was extremely attentive to, maybe desperate over, not losing control. However that was mainly about not letting Gus talk much; it was definitely not about limiting petty criticism of Gus by others, and it was not really about better enabling everyone to discuss "treatment". 

The social worker (Rachel) actually recited a long litany about proper and improper manners and purpose for a staffing, which was unprecedented in the  twenty years I've been attending these events. As best I could tell, she then became the only person in attendance to violate the supposed rules of decorum, although it was almost impossible to know who was talking over whom because of atrocious acoustics.

Sharpe ostentatiously counted eight participants to hear him deny that he was threatening to keep Gus until his Theim date. One was me, one was Gus, and one was Dr. Welch (Administration), so five people were there to confront Gus and overwhelm him, not to learn how he could be helped. This was not subtle, it was five against one.

As for that actual denial, it was clearly self serving. Sharpe can say anything he wants to Gus when the rest of us are not around to witness it. Plus, the whole plantation milieu constantly screams to the slaves: "Do what the psychiatrists say, believe what they tell you to believe, take the drugs and thank them for teaching you to be proper disabled sub-humans. Otherwise you will never leave!" It's hardly necessary for any individual clinician to directly communicate this message in plain words, which is why they think it's not important and occasionally let it slip out.

Tom Szasz pointed out the "primal justification by silence" or tacit acceptance of oppression of one group by another as "obviously right"--as with historic American chattel slavery. When an authority begins to justify itself, it is no longer an absolute authority. Once the primal justification of no justification is relinquished, those who harm others may legitimize their acts in three main ways: 1. the oppressor is human and the oppressed is not; 2. the victimizer is really the victim; and 3. the victim is really a threat to himself so the victimizer protects him.

I could write a lot about how this looks in "forensic psychiatry" (but Szasz already did).

At one point during today's staffing for Gus, Dr. Sharpe said something like, "Gustavo, let's just try to get you better..." It was a mawkish, cynically disingenuous plea with no connection whatsoever, to anyone's honest reality. It reminded me of claims that black slaves lived in much better conditions in the Antebellum South than they had endured when they were free in Africa.

Qui s'excuse, s'accuse.

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