This is what I’m responding to
Here’s my two cents
I’d like to dissect your blog post
First I welcome your commitment to equality. This is a central principle of the Human Rights Act and the equivalent international rights legislation for disabled people. It is fundamental to a civilised civilisation and in my opinion is a very important objective not just for this wretched country but all wretched countries.
I’ve been focused on the area of employment equality and salary. I’ve sketched a mathematical model for measuring the equality of salary for disadvantaged groups by the centralised collection of equal opportunities data and salary data. I’ve put this forward to the government and my MP but it has been dismissed. I think it’s an important step forward though to use a data driven approach to surmounting the massive challenges on the path to equality. There are significant challenges to make the measurement of national employment equality a reality but it is essential to how it will be achieved because everything that’s done to improve employment equality must be proven to be effective by the data and performance management framework.
Another aspect of employment equality other than to detect discrimination of disadvantaged groups is to measure the divide in wages between the richest, the middle and the poorest. Again, the centralised data collection will create a true picture. In the business news I’ve heard of a CEO who earns 30 million pounds a year. This contrasts with the (illegal immigrants) people who are paid the minimum wage (or less but this very low wages are for illegal immigrant labour so getting the data is much harder). This data is part of the dataset required for the monitoring of employment equality of disadvantaged groups. Alternatively I believe in can be collected from HMRC tax data.
(You can see my thoughts and the mathematical model I’ve sketched here.
This second element is particularly important for the challenge of reducing and ending poverty. I believe poverty is a relative concept. It is not a low income but a low income in comparison to everyone else. I believe it is relative because if you consider the poor today have much more money than the poor in developing world countries and much more than the poor in this country a century ago. Thus I believe that if you’re going to attack poverty you the primary focus is not a minimum income but equality of income. The measurement of equality of income from employment is part of the real goal and challenge of destroying poverty.
There will always be poor people when there are such huge differences in income. You can raise the minimum wage or increase benefits and these are important but it’s the narrowing of the inequality which is most important.
I am reminded of a politician being asked about how they perceived equality and the different sections on trains. They were asked, “so you want everyone to be in second class?”, to which the politician replied, “no. I want everyone to be in first class.”
On a personal note I think it is evil which makes the divide as bad as it is. Some people get £6000 a year but a very few get £30,000,000. No one is worth so much more than the worst off by a factor of 5000. (I must admit I’d rather be on the best side of the divide between the rich and the poor. But I have a lot of experience of being poor.)
Now onto the topic of prevention. You’ve used a statistic to demonstrate what you think is the issue which is people who don’t engage with mental health services. It makes me think that you believe that the prevention challenge will be solved by more people engaging with mental health services. This is conventional and deeply medicalised view if I’m correct in my understanding of what you’re saying. But, of course, you work for the ‘Mental Health’ Foundation and you’re writing about the ‘Mental Health’ Concordat.
What are you really trying to prevent? You need to look deep into yourself to answer this truthfully. Are you trying to prevent suffering? Are you trying to prevent unbearable suffering? Are you trying to prevent worry? Are you trying to prevent the existence of disability or are you trying to make the disabled free to be what they are without experiencing negative outcomes and poor life course?
This last question is very important especially when it comes to the medical approach versus the equality/psychodiversity approach. Mental health services are obviously part of the medicalised approach and their method is primarily normalisation. They’re “be like me” and not “be who you are” so I have to ask what is your attitude to this and the sort of prevention the concordat is trying to do? The difference is in how much you revere the principle of integrity of disability which, I believe, is part of the spirit of the CRPD which is the current gold standard of disability rights.
This is so important when you think about prevention and an unprotected group like addicts. I’m a drug addict. I depend on drugs to make me happy and to think better. In terms of happiness they’re much better and far more reliable than people are at making me happy. You might prefer me to be normal and sober. I prefer you to be high. The medicalisation of addiction determines the course of normalisation but I’m happier and better as an addict. It is part of the integrity of my being and I hope it’s part of yours. But if you’re usually sober then you’re an essential part of the natural psychodiversity of the human race as I am as an addict.
Do you see what I’m trying to say?
Now let me talk about my thoughts on suicide prevention. This is a deeply contentious area which I have very strong feelings about because of my extensive personal experiences. I gave you a small taste of the radical change I perceive as the essential revolution and the moral imperative.
My views on suicide and the suicide system do not defer to the medical paradigm. The only area of similarity is in the resolution of suicidal feelings but my opinions on this area go further than the lazy and incompetent methods of existing suicide treatment which is based on the medicalised approach. I’ve written my thoughts up in three documents which I can send to you.
I’ll explain in brief. My perspective on the truth about the cause of suicidal feelings. But first let me be clear, honest and open. I do not believe in the criminalisation of assisted suicide. I would like to say that I’m totally against the prevention of the act of suicide but I have some mental shortcomings and one of them is that I believe in a certain level of protection from suicide being done recklessly.
On the other hand I’m deeply against the recklessness which is pervasive in society which is reckless with an individual’s will to live. This is a terrible injustice.
I tried to explain to me DoH by considering health and safety legislation which is primarily about the prevention of physical suffering, injury and death. The will to live must be protected in the same way. This is the best sort of suicide prevention but all that exists at the moment is the worst sort of suicide prevention.
This direction of protecting an individual’s will to live is not a medicalised concept and it would be ridiculous to approach it like it’s a medical problem. It’s not about treatment or engagement with mental health services. It’s about social change. It’s about recognising that it’s misery, suffering, unbearable suffering and unbearable quality of life which cause suicidal feelings, not anything medical because these causes are not diseases.
Instead I believe it is about recognising that people are not beings who are capable of enduring limitless suffering. I’m sure this sounds obvious but it’s a big leap forward to recognise this basic trait of conscious beings. It’s the reason why society and culture must advance to be more humane and less cruel. The medicalised disease perspective has never recognised this simple truth that everyone has a limit to what they can endure (beyond which suicide becomes a good solution) so society and culture must never be so cruel as to go beyond this limit.
My personal experience is that there is no limit to protect me from the cruelty of the human race. None but suicide provides the protection I’ve always needed. This is a statement of the poor quality of the human race. Evil prevails which is why suicide is the only protection I have and my failures to kill myself have resulted in more suffering when I have already suffered too much.
I’d like to talk about discrimination now and the discrimination which is implicit in the mental health system. This is particularly important when you consider the historical and sociological forces of prejudice which led to the creation of the institution of psychiatry. Broadly I’d like to talk about normalisation and the cultural prejudices which are enforced by psychiatric diagnosis however I fear that I’ve already written quite a lot. But it’s important for what’s truly important in the long term.