CHOICES II -5 - Impediments to Acceptance

Robin Cunningham Health Guide

    For the benefit of those that are interested in following this series of blogs [CHOICES II - Choices in Recovery], but have joined us for the first time, I'll lead off with a brief outline of what has gone before.


    We started with a brief description of the basic Journey for Recovery model.  The starting point for this journey is widely thought to be Acceptance of the fact that we have a mental illness (which is what we are now discussing) and our discussion will continue on through three major milestones along the way: Functionality, Wellness and Fulfillment.  The series will also discuss many of the Stepping Stones that assist us in getting from one milestone to the next.

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    CHOICES II-0 - Starting Over - the first blog in the series, is a more detailed summary of the above.


    CHOICES II-1 - Impediments to Acceptance 1A examines one of the issues that can make acceptance difficult, i.e. anosognosia, a symptom which about 40% of consumers with schizophrenia experience which renders them unaware of the fact that they are ill.  This was one of the symptoms of schizophrenia that affected me from the outset.  This blog also relates that, for me, the Journey of Recovery actually started some three years before I came to accept the fact that I had schizophrenia.


    In CHOICES II-2 - Impediments to Acceptance 1B - I set out the five factors that I believe were instrumental in the fact that my Journey for Recovery began before I came to accept that I had schizophrenia.  It also describes some of my symptoms in more detail.


    CHOICES II-3 Impediments to Acceptance 1C - I began a discussion of additional factors that can impede acceptance.  These included ignorance on the part of the consumer, as well as those around him or her, as well as denial, the side effects of medications, and unknowingly seeking help from the wrong places.  I then focused on ignorance, which I believe is at the core of most the stigma and discrimination to which those of us with schizophrenia fall prey.  More specifically, I discussed the nature of "passive" ignorance.


    Today, I am going to discuss the nature of "active" ignorance.


    With regard to mental illness, an individual morphs from someone who is passively ignorant into one who is actively ignorant when they decide to take action based upon their ignorance.


    After every NAMI In Our Own Voice presentation the floor is opened for questions.  Throughout one such presentation a gentleman in the back raised his hand every time I paused for breath.  Since it was abundantly clear that he had a burning question, once the formal part of the presentation was completed and the session opened for questions, I called on him first.  The question he asked was stunning.  He wanted to know whether I (a consumer) thought that every person with a mental illness should be required to register and their neighbors notified of their presence in the community, much as is done in some states for child molesters.


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    If not sooner in some other venue, then with the utterance of this question, this gentleman morphed from a passively ignorant person to an actively ignorant one in so far as mental illness was concerned.  He was suggesting that action against the mentally ill should be taken based on his own ignorance.


    I must admit, I never anticipated that such a question would be asked of me so directly, especially in response to an In Your Own Presentation.  Fortunately, I'd slept well the night before and was as in relatively good form.  I responded to his question appropriately and forcefully.  After my response, this gentleman was "glued" to his seat for the balance of the program and said not another word.


    Now let's have a little fun.  I would like everyone that is so inclined to submit a reply to this blog indicating what they think my response was or should have been.  I'm not asking for anything elegant, just a brief note setting out what you would have said to this gentleman in response to his outrageous question.

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    Please remember, this writing reflects my own experience and opinions.  If you, or a loved one, are experiencing the symptoms of schizophrenia, or any other mental illness, you should seek professional assistance.


Published On: November 02, 2008