Why Therapy Could Be the First Step Towards Euthanizing Victims of Oppression
There have been several stories of child sexual abuse survivors who had therapy and psychiatric medication and treatment and then ended up with euthanasia in Belgium. One of them was a woman and another one of them was a trans man both of whom had been sexually abused. I find these stories chilling. I do not know how society could, while failing to deal with the problem of child sexual abuse, then tell these survivors that there was no hope for them and their suffering was untreatable. Yes it was untreatable by medical means and individualistic means but who is to say that if society had been changed if we stopped the child sexual abuse happening all around them and really took their pain seriously, these people could not have made a full recovery ?
I think there are a lot of people who appear “treatment resistant mentally ill” and “untreatable” who can make a full recovery if only we could change society. They could get better if they knew that society was taking what happened to them seriously and doing everything possible to make sure it never happened to another victim again.
I think sending these people for therapy is the first step in refusing to give them the listening ear of taking their pain seriously and changing society. I believe it is the first step on the road to “euthanizing” them. This is how I envision it happening. This is how I envision victims of violence and oppression, such as these people being disappeared and euthanized and their stories erased.
First you locate the problem in the individual rather than in society. There are many people in our society who have suffered horrific violence, violence that you would not even think it’s possible for a person to survive or it’s a wonder that they survived it. (The trans man above was an incest survivor, how do we expect anyone to survive that sort of violence ?). They are lucky to have survived and must have some “strong moral fibre” to have done that (but sadly this is the perspective less taken, where are the people celebrating the victims’ strong moral fibre in just surviving even if they have many “symptoms” ?).
Here is how you get on the road to euthanizing people who probably could otherwise have recovered. You seek an individualistic (rather than a collective) solution to the problem of their pain. You decide that we’ve done all that we can about societal changes to stop the violence or that the process of stopping the violence in society cannot move any faster. We can’t diminish their pain by fixing society rather than them or maybe we won’t. We don’t want to do the work of swimming upstream, we don’t want to try harder or put more effort into changing society. We somewhat willfully decide that it’s too hard or too much work. We’ve done enough or we’re doing enough, we can’t be expected to do more.
Imagine that then you send the victims for therapy. When therapy doesn’t work, then you could give them antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs. When that doesn’t work you would move on to electroshock treatments. (It’s conceivable that even other things like psychosurgery and chemical treatments are tried at this point).
Then after all of this if this is not working (even though the problem could always have been addressed in society and on a collective level, people just chose to treat it individually with therapy and “fix yourself” because that was “easier” and it was easier to fix the victims of violence and the weakest links rather than fix society) people could be then labelled “treatment resistant.” All your treatment is not fixing the problem and diminishing their unbearable suffering (their suffering is probably unbearable, why would they go to therapy or for treatment in the first place if their suffering was bearable ? People with bearable suffering generally have the more pressing concern of accomplishing their goals and things to do with their lives other than therapy, like getting educated and travelling the world, they don’t have time for therapy, none of us do, but if your suffering is unbearably painful enough then people start making time for therapy. At least this is how it worked with me.). If their suffering is unbearable and society has already opened up assisted suicide and euthanasia, then they could be given euthanasia. Euthanasia and fixing the problem in society by killing the victims and disappearing their stories is what I see as very imaginable. I am afraid that if we go down this road this is where we will end up.
Looking at therapy on victims of child abuse, at no point when therapy isn’t working, when medication isn’t working, are practitioners ready to turn back and say, “We are fixing the wrong thing, the problem is in society not in the victims.” Do they ever tell patients, “Well therapy isn’t working, you are only getting worse. You’re not actually sick or the problem to be worked on. Sorry it was wrong to give you therapy. Obviously it doesn’t work you’re not the problem” ? Certainly in the dozen or so therapists I saw and made little progress with no one ever told me this or turned around and said to me, “Maybe I’m fixing the wrong person and you’re not the problem. Maybe the problem is not you.” (I had to figure out this for myself when my abuser almost attacked another little girl and her brothers). Does a psychiatrist ever turn back from a series of antidepressants that do not work (and probably make the person sicker) and say, “Well we have tried all of them and nothing works. Now that nothing and no antidepressant has works, we will now consider other sources of the problem, we will now look at the problem being outside of you. Probably you are not the problem” ? No psychiatrist ever did this with me and I have tried over fifteen different anti depressants and a few different other kinds of psychotropic drugs as well. You would have thought that at some point when the drugs were not working someone would have turned around and thought that something was wrong in their approach to the problem. Sadly instead it seems that when “treatment” fails, the victim usually just gets scapegoated further. Do any of these treaters ever say, “Since no treatment has worked to “fix you” probably you are not the problem to be fixed, and the problem is something else” ? Do therapists ever admit to being wrong ? Do psychiatrists ever admit to being wrong and locating the problem in the person (in chemicals and biology) rather than in society ? None of my treatment providers ever did this.
I never see this happening. Why is there is always one more drug and one more therapist and one more treatment option to fix the victim ? When nothing is working to fix the victim, in fact all the treatment methods are clearly beating up the victim and making their pain worse at no point do people turn back and say, “Maybe you aren’t the problem. Let’s go back to the harder and more daunting option of fixing society. The option that we didn’t have the courage to choose in the first place.” When the victim has probably gotten worse and “sicker” and more beaten up from the efforts to fix them, then do people then go back and say, “Well this problem was not the victim in the first place, it’s society. This person is really having a normal reaction to awful situations” ? It seems it never goes that way. Once you decide to swim downstream (in fixing the victim who is not the problem) instead of upstream because upstream (fixing society and holding perpetrators accountable) is too untenable, do you ever decide to swim upstream again ? Even in an extreme situation ? You have already decided it’s untenable and too hard, what could possibly make you go back on your decision ?
Once you do not have the courage and capitulate and take the easier way out do you ever go back to the harder way ? (I don’t think that the strength to go with the harder way (maybe through no fault of your own), which you did not have and so chose the easier way, generally ever magically appears out of the blue. I’m not saying a treatment provider can’t get this strength and courage but it doesn’t happen randomly out of thin air without some (unlikely) outside intervention or event. But probably if you didn’t have the strength to go down the other harder road at the beginning, I don’t think that you will randomly get filled with the strength to go down it later.) Does the victims getting beaten down further, getting more “stressed out” and starting to capitulate even more in “self harm” and “symptoms” encourage you to now have more courage ? It seems to me the opposite. The more the victims are beaten down and made to fix themselves, the more society (including psychotherapists) seems intent on fixing them. The more intense the hierarchy and oppression on them gets, the more the truth of their political situation gets erased and everyone loses the ability to access the truth of what is really going on, not to mention losing the ability to genuinely empathize. This is how a hierarchy works, it’s sort of a positive feedback loop that gets instituted. The victim and their story get more and more silenced, the more silenced their story is as “mental illness”, the more silenced it gets as “treatment resistant mental illness” when the treatment fails to work, at no point does this positive feedback loop and silencing of the victim break, when treatment makes the person “sicker” or does not work no one is going to go back now and decide that the victim is not actually mentally ill, that they were fixing the wrong problem. (Is it any wonder now that Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade had had plenty of (presumably failed) mental health treatment before they capitulated in suicide the ultimate silencing ? Why instead of seeing that treatment did not work for them and that’s why they died, are there instead calls for MORE therapy and MORE diagnosing and treatment of “mental illness”? Is anyone at all thinking that Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were not in fact the problem ? What if the cause of these tragedies is that wrong problem (the victim rather than society or perpetrators) was being fixed here ?)
It is very difficult once you have gone down this road of “fixing” the victims and placing the problem with the victims, it’s very hard for people to turn back and say that the problem was in society not the victims. Once you start taking the easier way out and you capitulate into taking the “easy way” out, no one wants to go back to the hard way, even when the “easy way” shows time and time again that it isn’t working. Isn’t there another never ending quest to find another easy way because you’ve already decided that doing the hard way and swimming upstream is too hard and out of the question ?
This is how it seems to work to me. This is sadly what happens when you decide not to confront a hierarchy or bullying, you just back down more and more and silence the victims more and more, you don’t ever magically get more courage to support the victims.
It’s not just that therapists out of pride or wanting to save face might refuse to acknowledge their prior mistakes or not happen upon the courage to do what they should have done in the first place. Could people go down the easy way out road of treating the victim and then see it’s not working and then stop and turn back and go the hard way instead ? It is also the fact that in seeking “alternative” solutions to the problem of oppression rather than confronting it directly, it instils shame for confronting the problem directly in everyone the treaters and society and the victim. It reinforces the hierarchy and the decision to scapegoat the victim and underdog in everyone. It begets more denial and shame and blindness in everyone. (It’s a curious feature that it seems with denial and shame when one person is ashamed and doesn’t realize that they are ashamed, other people often get pulled into this denial and can’t recognize that that person is ashamed and in denial. The shame becomes invisible to everyone not just the victim.) I think people go down this road because they are in denial in the first place and the further they go down the road the more wrapped up in denial they get. The more people deny, the more attractive it is to keep denying. When you start denying do you ever intend to stop or to find the truth or find the courage to be truthful spontaneously ? Doesn’t one lie usually just lead to another lie ? It’s unlikely that starting down that road truth is going to happen. It’s unlikely in general that truth will happen randomly but it’s even more unlikely that truth will happen when starting down a road of lies and capitulating to the gender hierarchy and how it pulls us to see things.
The problem with denial is also that it seems to work. (It does “disappear” the problem in a way.) People are confused by their own denial. Why would they deny in the first place if it didn’t work at confusing them ?
Euthanasia is an individualistic solution. It is the final individualistic solution when all the other individualistic solutions have not worked. (Speaking of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, suicide is also the ultimate, “fix yourself” and “self help” solution, sadly it’s not really a surprise to me that after fixing themselves in therapy for years Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, fixed themselves in suicide.) It is what happens when society and anti oppressive activists have gone down the road of fixing the victims rather than the oppression in society. It’s not hard to envision it when, after stubbornly resisting fixing the problems in the world, and continually resisting over years as the therapeutic solutions do not work, society then resists fixing the problem collectively even more. If you decided to bury your head in the sand scapegoat the victim and be in denial in the first place what is to stop you from keeping your head in the sand later or scapegoating the victim later even when the consequences are even graver ? It is the end of the road and where we could end up if we start pursuing individualistic solutions to oppression’s toll on people’s mental health. And once we have gone down the road of individualistic solutions rather than societal ones, if the suffering continues I don’t see us stopping until the final individualistic solution. It’s the final part of “fix yourself.” It’s the final part of “society has had enough of people’s pain and hearing their stories and now we want to go back to our lives and not have to hear them or know them any more or bother changing the world so we sent them to therapy.” Therapy is the first step in erasing people’s stories and saying you don’t want to listen (let a therapist listen but someone, anyone but not me). Euthanasia is also the final step of shutting up people’s stories that you absolutely don’t want to hear and have avoided at all costs.
The thought of this makes me sick. Imagining this literally takes a toll on my mental health. This is what could happen if we send the oppressed and horribly abused and beaten down victims to therapy.