noracharles: (Default)
[personal profile] noracharles
An emotion is not an opinion. We can not agree or disagree with an emotion, but we can sympathize (feel the same) or empathize (understand or care about the person's emotions).

An experience is not an opinion. We can not agree or disagree with it, but we can believe or disbelieve, or understand the experience being relayed.

An opinion is an opinion, and we can agree or disagree with it, or argue for or against it.

Someone who has a mental health issue and reacts in an unusual way emotionally may have emotions we can't sympathize with. But that doesn't mean we have to disbelieve their experiences, or disagree with their opinions.

Irrational is a not a synonym for wrong, or "thing I disbelieve" or "thing I disagree with."

Sane is not a synonym for right, or "thing I believe" or "thing I agree with."

And a pertinent example:

"Because of my social anxiety, I don't like having my fic archived on public archives, including the AO3" is not the same as "I have political or philosophical objections to the AO3".

When you use mental health to judge who are right and who are wrong in a disagreement, you are not just arguing for your opinion, you are also contributing to the oppression of all people with mental health issues (including those who agree with you about the matter at hand).

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-05 11:21 pm (UTC)
laughingrat: A detail of leaping rats from an original movie poster for the first film of Nosferatu (Default)
From: [personal profile] laughingrat
Oh! Yes, this is important! These are important distinctions! They are always good to be reminded about, even if it's just to make one's own argument clearer. ;)

But yes, lots of relevance to the current debacle.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 12:50 am (UTC)
amadi: A stylized photo of two calla lily flowers (Default)
From: [personal profile] amadi
Beautifully stated.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 07:16 am (UTC)
sqbr: I lay on the couch, suffering an out of spoons error (spoons)
From: [personal profile] sqbr
I had felt vague niggles of unease at the way people were bandying around words like "insane", and you've laid it out very clearly. I am VERY TIRED today so apologise if this makes no sense.

I've seen irrational suggested as a non-ableist alternative to insane, but it's clear that some people do use them as synonyms. Do you have any suggestions(*) for better words to mean arguments that make no sense and are entirely unjustified, of the sort giandujakiss is criticising here? (I think it was you somewhere who pointed out the dodginess of her language, and you're right, but I think her underlying criticisms are sound) Illogical, maybe? False? Nonsensical? I'm not sure I'm not still missing something.

(*)nb I don't think you HAVE to have suggestions, just wondering :)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 10:20 am (UTC)
sqbr: I lay on the couch, suffering an out of spoons error (spoons)
From: [personal profile] sqbr
Sorry, I obviously didn't make myself at all clear. I'm going to try to clarify what I meant by my question, but don't expect you to answer it since you sound very low on spoons and I know what that's like. (If you find you have the spoons, huzzah! But if not that's cool)

I am 100% on board with the idea of ableist language. You have convinced me that "irrational" is (or can be) ableist. But from what I can recall pretty much every other discussion of ableist language I've seen has either not mentioned the word "irrational" or has given it as a non ableist alternative to "crazy"/"insane" etc (I can't find any exactly, but for example this post on ableist language has "irrational" as one of the inaccurate connotations of mental illness). I'm not saying this makes you wrong, it just shows that language use differs (and imo if a word is ableist on some contexts but not others then it's worth avoiding in general). But it means I feel very unsure of my ability to think or look up alternatives that aren't themselves ableist in some way. Thus, I asked if you could think of any. The giadujakiss post was just as an example, but I get the feeling that using it meant you thought I was asking "How do we describe the irrational things mentally ill people say without using the word 'irrational"?" when what I meant was "How do we describe the illogical things (largely neurotypical) people say without using the word "irrational"?". I wasn't thinking of merricatk but of the people who, for example, say the OTW has no understanding of the law despite having a lawyer on the board etc.

But this is not your problem! What I will do is I will wait until I am more awake, and ask my dw reading list (which includes some of the editors of FWD, making feel very embarrassed to come across as so clueless) Apologies for adding to your stress when you really don't need it.

'irrational' and possible connotations

Date: 2010-01-08 02:10 pm (UTC)
phoebe_zeitgeist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] phoebe_zeitgeist
I hope I'm not derailing anything with this (and do tell me if I am!), but I realized on reading this post and comments that it's possible that some misunderstanding is coming out of what I think may be non-universal nuances of meaning to the word 'irrational' as used in current American English.

The thing is, there are cognitive modes that most or all of us routinely use that are not formal or linear reason, that I don't even think can be traced back to linear reason on full examination. Intuition, faith, emotion: those are all modes of thought, and not modes I would automatically dismiss or imply were less valid than reason by their nature.

But if I were talking about those cognitive modes, I would normally use the term 'non-rational' rather than 'irrational,' even as I suspected I was using self-invented terminology. And I'd be doing it to avoid the connotations of 'irrational,' which in my dialect of American English suggests a situation where whatever the underlying cognitive process, it has been distorted by either an inability or a refusal to accurately process relevant, ascertainable fact. And I wouldn't want to imply that a thought process was disordered when I wasn't damned sure that I meant exactly that.

Or, to do my usual thing with the examples: A devout more-or-less Anglican astrophysicist tells me that he can't explain why he has faith not only in God, but in a God with whom it's possible for an individual human being to have a personal relationship. "I know how much sense the arguments against it make," he tells me. "And I know, intellectually, that I could be totally wrong; but I still really believe it. I don't know, it just feels like it's right." This guy's faith is what I'd call non-rational: it's not based in reason, or not any reason that's accessible to him. But he's not refusing to look at facts that might contradict his faith, or distorting the facts he looks at.

By contrast: A politician from an American coal-mining state tells us that climate change/global warming is a giant hoax. He has proof, he tells us, if only people would listen to what he's saying and check his evidence! Only when we look more closely, we find that many, many people, in the sciences and out of them, have taken him seriously, looked at his evidence, and rebutted it all so meticulously that it's impossble to look through their findings and not see that some of what he's relying on has been faked, and the rest has been misrepresented or distorted. And this has been explained to him over and over and over, by his opponents and by at least a few of his friends.

This guy isn't lying to us -- he really believes every word he's saying. But for some reason or other (his sense of himself is now all wrapped up in this political position; his sense of self is similarly wrapped up in the idea that he's always right; his state's prosperity depends on continuing to mine coal and he can't bear the idea that they need to stop doing it for the sake of the planet, whatever) he has become incapable of engaging with any fact that would undercut his beliefs. He won't look at those facts, or if he's forced to he insists they're all hoaxes, or if all other alternatives are cut off he suddenly becomes unable to understand them.

This is what I'd call 'irrational.' It's not a neutral term by any means: it implies at the very least a profound flaw in cognitive processing, including the kinds of cognitive processing that don't depend on reason. Which may be why you're seeing the word used in ways that tend to conflate, say, 'irrational' with 'delusional.' They're not the same concept, but colloquially and in my language group, they may actually be more closely related than 'irrational' and 'nonrational.'

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-10 02:34 am (UTC)
sqbr: (existentialism)
From: [personal profile] sqbr
*nods*

I think we're talking a bit at cross purposes here: I agree with you about the usage of the word to dismiss the opinions of mentally ill people, and with the examples you gave. And on further thought I think I was being a bit off topic with my questions so I'll leave it.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 04:23 pm (UTC)
elf: Elf's Cousin It impression (Default)
From: [personal profile] elf
I started to reply to this, and then realized I was tangenting in directions that weren't related to your post, so I posted in my journal instead.

The core concept (inasmuch as I have one) was, I don't like "irrational" being used as a euphemism for "irrelevant and meaningless." Especially not when "irrational" is accurate, as if it were some kind of mental toxin that destroys all rights to participate in a discussion.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-07 02:40 am (UTC)
elf: Elf's Cousin It impression (rainbow fairy)
From: [personal profile] elf
Not so much a specific religious use of the word "crazy," as an acknowledgment: Not all of the insane are gods-touched, but all of the gods-touched are insane. Certain spiritual states are incompatible with rationality.

Oz's article, Between Sanity and Madness, explores how some spiritual experiences are treated as signs of mental illness. (The article was contracted for inclusion in a book; it was pulled very late in the publication process.) In a more academic approach, Mental Illness & Spiritual Initiation was written for an abnormal psych class.

'nuff proselytizing, though.

The circular argument is rather breathtaking in its complexity and whirlpool-vortex ability to grab any shred of an "irrational" statement and subject it to the "you are irrelevant" conclusion.

I had not thought of the discourse as "ableist." I think of mental states, emotional states, as matters of spirituality, and consider the dismissal of some states as a gap in spiritual connection. Ableism hadn't crossed my mind because I'm used to people saying, "that thing you think of as a religious matter, it is not, and you are stupid if you think that's important."

And while that's an offensive and bigoted statement, it's not (directly) ableist. I had been initially putting these conversations in my "vaguely religious but nobody except me is gonna notice that" filter. Move *from* that *to* an awareness of modern psychology's concept of "mentally ill" was odd.

In case it hadn't come across--thank you for these posts, for hosting these discussions. Because along with the other good it does, I need the reminders, the perspective from people who don't parse those notions as religious.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 02:44 am (UTC)
aquaeri: My nose is being washed by my cat (Default)
From: [personal profile] aquaeri
I don't know if this helps, but I regard "mental illness" as a social/cultural construct. Yes, there are some things we call mental illness that would probably be considered mental illness (or the equivalent category space) in any culture/society, but it gets really fuzzy around the edges and some things Western culture considers mental illness wouldn't be thought of that way in other cultures, vice versa I believe some patterns of behaviour/belief that are thought of as normal in Western culture would be regarded as mental illnesses in other cultures/societies.

I believe this based on my own experience with mental illness (which I of course think wouldn't be, in a different culture), and by analogy with physical illnesses. Anyway, it makes perfect sense to me that "some spiritual experiences are treated as signs of mental illness" - it's all a matter of whose definition of "mental illness" is in play.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 03:39 pm (UTC)
elf: Subvert (Subvert)
From: [personal profile] elf
It helps.

There's "crazy," as in seriously bonkers totally nonfunctional broken-mindedness... and then there's "crazy," as in weird and different and makes everyone nearby wonder what drugs you're on (or off), but not danger-to-self-and-others, not incapable of making conscious choices, not unable to establish & maintain social relationships.

And we don't have a decent set of vocab for distinguishing between the two. They're both lumped under "mentally ill" with a pack of technical terms that even the experts don't consense on the meanings of. (And modern psychology treats all religion as kind of benign delusion, except when you have too much of it and it's considered a dangerous delusion.)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-13 12:11 am (UTC)
aquaeri: My nose is being washed by my cat (Default)
From: [personal profile] aquaeri
Yes, it's kinda funny that "mentally ill" is this big lump of scariness, when we can easily distinguish "physically ill" into subcategories like "in the ICU" or "has well-managed diabetes".

I really enjoyed this review/analysis of 'exporting American mental illness'. I think it added a lot to the article itself.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-07 06:59 pm (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Macro photo of my Blue Heeler Lucy's deep brown left eye (loved it all)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Thank you so much for this post and the others in the current time frame calling people out on disabling metaphor re: mental health. You have helped me understand why many interactions in my life have been frustrating. You have given me words for experiences, feelings & opinions I have, up til now, been unable to name. Go you!

ETA: In other words, also a clarification for those affected.
Edited (fingers faster than brain) Date: 2010-01-07 07:00 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-09 10:17 pm (UTC)
solaciolum: King of Night Vision, King of Insight (Default)
From: [personal profile] solaciolum
That was beautifully, succinctly put, and it helped crystalize some thoughts I've been having on the matter- thank you for posting this.

Just because a person's feelings are irrational does not mean those feelings are not real for that person; nor does it mean that person's thoughts or opinions are not relevant simply because their feelings are irrational.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-10 12:22 am (UTC)
anjak_j: Derek Jeter touching the Joe DiMaggio quote sign (Default)
From: [personal profile] anjak_j
Beautifully put. From one mentally ill person, thanks for this post. =)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-10 01:29 am (UTC)
bell: Cuddy hugging Wilson to comfort him (hold)
From: [personal profile] bell
I've been learning a lot about ableism from your comments and posts; thank you for taking the time, effort, and patience to speak and express what you and others have been feeling.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-10 09:05 pm (UTC)
linkspam_mod: A metal chain (Default)
From: [personal profile] linkspam_mod
This post has been added to a linkspam round up..

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-11 04:16 am (UTC)
sheafrotherdon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sheafrotherdon
Thank you for this post - and for your goodwill and patience in continuing these discussions.

Related, I think - The New York Times magazine has an article today about [The Americanization of Mental Illness] that I found extremely thought-provoking. The author's central argument about the ways in which western ideas about mental illness are being exported around the globe, with mixed effect, is not pertinent to the discussion here - but there's a great deal that he talks about along the way that is. In particular, he talks about the ways in which people respond to knowing someone has a mental illness - and I think his points link to much of what you've been trying to communicate about word usage, argument, and respect. It's an article that I thought you would find interesting, and I hope it adds to our collective thinking (of all kinds) about the issue.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-11 09:57 am (UTC)
originalpuck: B&W image of a woman with tattoos and fairy wings. (fairywoman)
From: [personal profile] originalpuck
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. As someone else with anxiety issues, I know quite well that my anxiety is often irrational. That doesn't mean that my experiences don't happen. I'm still usually too nervous to mention my mental health issues because of rampant ableism, so seeing posts like this really make my day.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-11 07:28 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thanks you for this post. I came at it through someone on my friends list on my live journal, and through the comments to another post... Anyway, the result was a bit of enlightenment on what have been frustrating experiences throughout most of my life, being that I don't approach much of anything from a 'rational' point of view, but rather from an emotional one, and htat leads to so much misunderstanding of all sorts. So thanks for this post. It's been very informative.

dontkickmycane

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-11 10:53 pm (UTC)
extraception: (Default)
From: [personal profile] extraception
"When you use mental health to judge who are right and who are wrong in a disagreement, you are not just arguing for your opinion, you are also contributing to the oppression of all people with mental health issues (including those who agree with you about the matter at hand)."

Thank you for this.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-11 11:09 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Um, I'm 99.99% sure you have empathy and sympathy mixed up, and getting definitions mixed up gives an unpleasant irony to the whole post.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 12:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tacky-tramp.livejournal.com
I like this post a lot. It's applicable to non-mentally-ill people, as well, since strong emotional responses are often dismissed and denigrated. "You're being irrational" is usually a criticism and a dismissal. Many of us have internalized this, too. On the relationship-advice communities I read, people will often describe a situation that prompted strong emotions in them, and then ask, "Am I being irrational?" meaning "Should I not be feeling this way?" No, no, no, no, no. All emotions are irrational, but that doesn't mean they're wrong!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 12:46 am (UTC)
o_saya: (Default)
From: [personal profile] o_saya
Personally, I don't see why this has spiraled into a mental health debate, because, a story is an author's story. If that author does not wish the story archived somewhere, it is their privilege to decline. END OF (non archived) STORY. Any farther explanation is a bonus.

*coughs* I hope that doesn't sound like I'm jumping on you. To address what's pertinent, thanks for pointing out the fact that personally not wanting one's work somewhere does not equate opposition to that place.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 04:46 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
Thank you for this. I suffer from anxiety (though not about AO3!), for which I take medication that is not always effective. I know the anxiety is irrational, so pointing out that I'm being irrational is *really* not helping!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-12 05:19 pm (UTC)
anya_elizabeth: Kittyspoon. (Default)
From: [personal profile] anya_elizabeth
Random metafandomer dropping in to say: this post is win. *hugs*