In my last blog I observed that when measuring someone's level of functionality society tends to do so on an absolute scale (90-100% is an A, 80-89% is a B). I also expressed the opinion that those of us with schizophrenia might be better served by measuring our individual levels functionality in relation to our capacity for functionality. This is because our capacity for functionality is, to a significant degree, a function of where we are in our journey of recovery. In other words, the measurement of our level of functionality should be done in relative terms. And finally, I ended the blog with the question of "what happens when these two methods of measuring functionality intersect?"
Why have I suggested that these two very different methods should be used in the first place? On the surface, the idea seems ridiculous. However, I have good reasons for doing so. I think the two different methods should be used because the objectives of measuring one's level functionality for those of us with schizophrenia and the objectives of society for measuring anyone's level of functionality are often quite different.
When society measures an individual's level of functionality, it is usually for purposes of determining if the individual is contributing, or can contribute, toward the success of a specific endeavor or in a specific position of responsibility, i.e. can he or she do the work required?
For society, more often than not, this necessitates evaluations that test a person's functionality against an absolute standard. As I said in my last blog, I'm not interested in taking a plane flight with a pilot and copilot that flunked out of flight school or that have not been certified to fly the plane they are piloting and on which I am riding.
As implied in the above comment, although society often needs to measure functionality in absolute terms, the actual standards of functionality used by society can vary widely. An airline pilot may be certified as required to fly a Boeing 767, but this doesn't mean that he or she would necessarily be functional as an aircraft maintenance officer or a flight attendant. In society, a person's functionality is usually measured for purposes of determining their suitability for something very specific. These absolute standards for measuring functionality can be affected by many things, such as education, physical dexterity or similar types of experience, to name just a few.
In the execution of our journey of recovery, we look for improvements in our functionality from day to day as measured not against the accomplishments of others or according to some absolute standard, but in comparison with our own performance the day before. In my opinion, our capacity for functionality is largely determined by the effectiveness of the medications we take. Have these medications compensated for the altered brain chemistry characteristic of our illness?