Discussion → How does mental illness define a writer?

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 06, 07:26pm

    How does mental illness replace religious belonging?

    How does mental illness replace ethnic heritage?

    How does mental illness displace gender belonging?

    How does mental illness remove qualifications, levels of attainment?

    Are standards of achievement different for the mentally diagnosed?

    Are standards of conduct different and how are they enforced?

    Are standards of creative conduct different for artists who are diagnosed?

    How does mental illness affect sexuality?

    How does mental illness affect identity?

    How is mental illness diagnosed?

    How is mental illness treated?

    How are intellectuals with mental illness treated?

    How long does mental illness last?

    Is the writer's mind always affected by it?

    Is the diagnosed creative writer allowed to participate in inquiry?

    "Where disabled artists study with real artists," from an arts class brochure distributed by COMPASS in Minneapolis.

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    Bobbi Lurie
    Aug 07, 12:06am

    just remember: the diagnosis is part of the diagnostician.

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    Bobbi Lurie
    Aug 07, 03:23am

    ...and mental illnes does NOT define the writer since writing is a mental illness. I know of no other way to describe this obsession to write & write & write...with absolutely no reward save the act of writing. Plus have you heard of hypergraphia? Well, that must be on the diagnostic whatever it is...and that DSMV (or is it DMV-I always get them mixed up-driving and diagnostic criteria seem to fall under same whatever): all the sorrow they caused with their P.D.D. diagnosis of my son: now P.D.D. is now no longer considered a diagnosis. Oh, thank you DMV for all those years of misery--not that he doesn't have problems but...to later say it is no longer a "valid diagnosis": no DMV: I don't forgive you-not that you ever asked-you are an insurance pre-requisite or whatever. Plus I worked as a therapist and my job was to diagnose. Why??? Because insurance won't pay without a diagnosis. So--let us consider new diagnosis: writer. "She is a writer so must be locked in a padded cell so that she can write." That sums it up for me. I have no idea who feels they have the right to 'diagnose': it is for the purpose of pharmaceutical companies who took my son's sight away from him so.....

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 07, 05:56am

    DMV, Bobbi, that is funny. It is okay to laugh here in the funny farm. My license plate in Texas was CCX 46R. It predated d'x but not routine check ups. Texas let me keep that one. Minnesota gave me 991 NES when I moved. I could figure that out. That is 3 months before d'x in TX. And a suffix, kindness, niece (of woman astrophysicist), nickname for Nestor. '99. The next one Minnesota gave me was LWY ###. The one I have now is 586 AZE. Doesn't AZE seem sort of Pharma? Why couldn't I keep LWY? New used car was the reason. Hazel is my grandmother and AZE is in her name.

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 08, 09:04am

    15 questions.

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    Gloria Garfunkel
    Aug 08, 03:43pm

    There are too many questions to answer all at once. Give me about a year. As to mental illness and race/religion. Some view it as a demonic possession. But for me: Jews are my People. Bipolars are my People. Anti-nuclear activists are my people. Intermarried people are my people. People who question authority are my people. Writers and painters are my peoplel That's how it goes.

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    Valerie Henderson
    Aug 08, 03:46pm

    I'd rather be mentally ill/fucked up than little miss fucking smiley face any day.

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 08, 04:19pm

    Epilepsy has a great lobby, as I say in my lobby. And glad that epilepsy (seizure) is now understood to be caused by brain injury or, rarely, inherited and not a sign of possession by demons.

    I have a Christian heritage not active belief, aligned as secular and agnostic prior to d'x, presumed to be Lutheran, not, no chance to explain UCC academically (Greek liturgy not orthodox), pressure to be hid. Blank, one friend said of me religiously, looking back on a 25-year friendship.

    UCC is rather welcoming (understanding). Marital status (single, not gay) a barrier anywhere. UU is similarly approachable, but at UU transexuality celebrated and mental illness diagnosis hid.

    The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on its front page one day that people diagnosed or suffering mental illness lack the mental capacity to believe in God.

    I felt that previous religious heritage or affiliation affected behaviors and beliefs in bipolar groups, though it was not remarked, and in one group firmly avoided as discussion.

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    John Riley
    Aug 08, 09:39pm

    The level of intelligence presented in many of these questions leaves me behind. The questions are brilliant, the answers, if existent, could never seep from my clouded mind.

    I do wonder if mental illness (I have trouble typing those words) replaces or displaces other human aspects. It isn't an entity. It's a different type of oxygen that affects how one is as regards religion or gender or sexuality or work or diet or vision or hearing or creating. The list is endless. Perhaps it would be easier dealt with if it did displace or replace instead of permeate. (Pardon the rhyme.)

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    Lucinda Kempe
    Aug 09, 12:56am

    Oh, I dunno.

    I do know that the definition of insanity is NOt doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Nor was that idiot definition coined by A. Einstein.

    There is a tremendous difference between perserveration and perseverance. Most confuse the two words. Perseverated thinking is rigid thinking that is stuck, often with repeated behaviors as a coping mechanism. Perseverance is altogether different and repeated behaviors (like rewriting or attending 12 step meetings over and over again) actually do produce different results, hopefully better.

    Unless of course the writer doing the rewrites really can't write and the addictive person is engaged in perseverated thinking/behaviors.


    Actually, I'm venting. I am so sick of hearing that idiot definition of insanity. The definition of insanity in the DSM book is the inability to distinguish between reality and non reality.

    I'm done. Feeling better already.

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 10, 03:44pm

    My answers to my own questions (continued):

    2. How does mental illness replace ethnic heritage?

    White is so vast and either matter-of-fact or disparaged. D'x'd is a subgroup of white somehow, not meaning that other ethnic groups not included as "white" (all are minorities when you break down the population ethnically) do not have their own d'x'd subgroups within them. The meaning of d'x'd ethnically seems to vary as I have heard it explained by experts, psychologists. It is thought by certain experts that ethnic belonging accounts for adjustment disorders in a justified way if the minority is traditionally targeted for discrimination by the majority.

    Not all families celebrate their ethnic heritage or emphasize it or even know much about it. Expression of ethnic heritage varies by exact region as well. I have recently heard accounts of Scandinavian-Americans in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin who still speak Norwegian and Swedish some of the time.

    If d'x'd is some kind of tribe, it is unlike ethnic heritage. Within a d'x'd person's lineage there is or may be an "identified patient," so not all members of the family are similarly affected, and family members may not agree regarding definitions and interpretations of psychiatry. When the d'x'd come together, as is possible in certain cities where support groups exist, what is the commonality? We are d'x'd according not to a blood test or brain scan, but to a theory about our neurotransmitters, three or four (of 2,000) in particular, serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

    It seems that mood disorder may run more steadily within certain ethnic groups. I have read about it in texts written by experts, ethnically heritable depression linked to Scandinavian heritage, for example, or alcoholism more likely to occur among Native Americans and British Islanders. The theory goes that Native Americans have been exposed to alcohol least long of all ethnic groups and Semitic people most long. Evolution gradually eliminates alcoholics from the gene pool or so that theory goes. Joan Matthews Larson proposes it in her treatment manuals, specifically her book, Seven Weeks to Sobriety.

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 11, 10:38pm

    3) How does mental illness displace gender belonging?

    Yesterday I met a friend who lives nearby for coffee. I didn't want the stimulation of caffeine, so we crossed the little park and alighted at an outdoor high top. I ordered a "Wisconsin martini," a Stella with green olives in it, and she ordered a cranberry-orange juice, and we set out on conversation. There was no one on hand to count our topics or hold us liable for digression or candor. We both could keep up with our flying speech. When we reached the highest branch, it was Elizabeth Bishop. My friend had written her dissertation on Bishop, and I know a few things myself, such as Bishop's self-selectivity in publishing her poetry and posthumous publishing of her drafts, and we know famous editors and poets who stand by Bishop, as we do. We talked about the decanonization of Anne Sexton that I had suspected and that my friend could verify. I said there are poets against Sexton's inclusion in the canon, but there are scholars in favor of it. She had a band, I said, Her Kind. She looked good in a sleeveless dress. She was Congregational. Ella Wheeler Wilcox, I suddenly said, "Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone." Ambrose Bierce quoted her poetry in The Devil's Dictionary. Now she's forgotten or an antiquated popular woman poet. Couldn't Sexton live on as a popular poet? I said. Bishop, my friend said, faulted Sexton's elitism. I said, it's great up here on this branch of poetry. My friend who seems genius has had six hospitalizations for depression that have resulted in shifting diagnoses and had just gotten out Wednesday. Even the d'x'd can be phobic re: each other and may enter a hopeful competition in staking one's legitimacy in art. Women intellectuals split along psychiatric divide?

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    Lucinda Kempe
    Aug 12, 11:57am

    In response to your question of how does mental illness define a writer. I don't think it does unless the writer/person is in the throws of that particular illnesses effects. Can you write when you're psychotic or in a deep depression ? I've written through depressions all my life. In fact, the writing itself helped to break the spell. I've never been psychotic. My father had many psychotic episodes. I have his journals where it is readily apparent that his sense of reality/unreality is un-threading.

    As to your first two questions I am stumped by the use of the word replace. Mental illness itself is not a thinking sentient being that does anything of its own will. It doesn't replace, displace or remove anything. Having it affects the person/s and what they do.

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 12, 04:13pm

    Lucinda, thanks for your reply to the overarching question "the identity of the writer." Your understanding seems to be that only symptoms affect the writer, not social determinations surrounding diagnosis. Disability law (1991 and 2008) defines "mental disability" as past history of mental illness, reputation as having had a mental illness, or present mental illness.

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 14, 03:23am

    4.) How does mental illness remove qualifications, levels of attainment?

    I planned to answer one of these questions per day. So far, other respondents have been answering them all as one question.

    Stigma is the answer to this question. Also, people are wary of sticking up for others. They are wary of falling back in the race, of associating with undesirables.

    Scapegoating is on my mind. Lately, I have been publicly upbraided especially by Jeffrey Side for prose digression and crossing the genre line of poetry. The genre line that interests me most is not poetry-slash-fiction, but fiction-slash-nonfiction.

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 16, 04:05am

    5.) Are standards of achievement different for the mentally diagnosed?

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 17, 12:35am

    5.) Are standards of achievement different for the mentally diagnosed?

    Yes. No. Yes.

    The exceptionally gifted who are diagnosed--do they have to be men to achieve recognition?

    Virginia Woolf (b. 1882 d. 1941 at age 59) I see her as lifting a great brick from a stove or holding a world on her head and her prose as joyful.

    Do the d'x'd have to be men to attain an income at all?


    There was a woman one spring in bipolar support group who had just started a new sales job and was soon outselling the other salespeople, all men. The men at work were acting antsy to be outsold by her, yet she hoped to earn as much money as possible before fall, when--if her pattern held--she would go into an annual depression.

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 17, 09:41pm

    6.) Are standards of conduct different and how are they enforced?

    YES. Standards of conduct are enforced against the mentally d'x'd or suspects. They are enforced by all, including by the d'x'd against the d'x'd as being d'x'd. People stick up for men. People do. Men do. Women do. People do not stick up for d'x'd men. I do. One d'x'd man last week who lives near me would not stop bossing me around so I gave up my chance to be a featured writer in his journal. His attitude toward me was that I ought to sleep with him as a d'x'd chick on disability, a case, without real friends or real job or real book, as he has, a d'x'd guy who is not a case but a genius, you know, though I had a boyfriend when he laid out his demand, and I write better than another chick he knows, and he knows it, whose new book is about the most famous d'x'd chick in world history. People do not stick up for women. I do. People do not stick up for d'x'd women. I do. People do not stick up for deceased women. I do.

    These are generalizations without heft in a socially integrated world.

    Cell phone rang this morning. My friend called. She has heard from more than one "someone" about Internet conduct against her. I said, no one has called or contacted me about conduct against me. She said, Internet friends are not friends. I said, It's boys v. girls. And "no one" cares, I said. So, that is whose opinion matters to me.

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    Ann Bogle
    Aug 18, 07:09pm

    7.) Are standards of creative conduct different for artists who are diagnosed?

    Excellent question, Ann. Thank you, Ann.

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