Monday, November 14, 2011

Stephen Fry - A Conservative Guardian of the Status Quo?

We all hold Stephen in the highest regard for his courage &
wit, his intellect is of the highest order of open mind we know.
Is our beloved Fry a Liberal Minded Free Thinker, or an Arch Conservative?

Imagine my surprise when a recent post on the Stephen forum was arbitrarily deleted three times?

Curiously a comment congratulating him on taking over as president of the charity MIND, posted on the 6th of November is still awaiting moderation?

One wonders if our fair Stephen is aware of these constrictive, conservative reactions made in the guise of his good name?

Those Self Appointed Guardians of the Status Quo?
Unfortunately for those of us forced to take the journey of mental illness beyond the hallowed walls of mainstream medical opinion, this is an all to familiar reaction to our alternative comments and our recovery wisdom. In support groups all over the internet and elsewhere anyone who dares to question the common acceptance, is shouted down and shut out almost without exception. "Your dangerous," is the most common reaction to anyone pointing out the unscientific foundation of psychiatry's DSM IV, while pointing to any kind of alternative view, even of the scientific kind.

Don't get me wrong with my rather dramatic & journalistic headline, I don't believe for a minute that Stephen is aware of moderation activity on his website. I simply wish to point out the nature of our often constrictive & perhaps self defeating, closed minded behaviors. Please watch an example of Stephen's contribution to raising awareness and de-stigmatizing the reality of mental illness experience.

Here is the post deleted three times on the Fry forum, first posted on Sun Nov 6th;

> General Scribblings
My Anniversary October - Why no Depression This Time?

Posted Mon Nov 7th, 2011 9:41am Post subject: My Anniversary October - Why no Depression This Time?

> General musings
My Anniversary October - Why no Depression This Time?
Posted Sat Nov 12th, 2011 11:03am Post subject: My Anniversary October - Why no Depression This Time?

“We’re in a freefall into future. We don’t know where we’re going. Things are changing so fast, and always when you’re going through a long tunnel, anxiety comes along. And all you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise is to turn your fall into a voluntary act. It’s a very interesting shift of perspective and that’s all it is… joyful participation in the sorrows and everything changes.” _Joseph Campbell.

As October passed away its now been a full 12 months since I returned to Thailand after seeking support from family and friends, towards the end of a six week un-medicated psychosis. I was very tired after riding the waves of emotive energy that manic-psychosis evokes for such a long period, unassisted and mostly alone. There had been many days during that October when emotive illusion blurred the objective lines of an everyday, normal sense of reality. In a trance like state similar to that which we feel when woken from a lucid dream I’d acted out impulsive energies with manic posts on The-Icarus-Project website and posted the same links here on Stephen Fry’s site too.

Unfortunately my return home to Sydney Australia did not meet with much understanding or offers of support due to my growing resistance to a mainstream view of my bipolar disorder condition. After a brutal first 24 hours of family rejection and the shock of my own cultures aggressive response to madness, I kept my own counsel hoping that time would heal my wounds and eventually bring rewards of new insight on my continuing sojourn of self revelation.

I'd allowed that psychotic period to unfold in its own way after thirty years of experience and education had given me the hope, that there is a natural explanation for the experience of classic manic depressive madness. Traveling back to Thailand only one week after my return home I was aware that my actions had been impulsive and that the shock of my family and friends reaction was concluding the manic energy phase. As I landed at Bangkok airport I wondered how long it might take for the depressive phase of my classic bipolar history to repeat itself, and if my attempt at self re-interpretation would be successful.

I was aware that the medical model of a diseased brain should be unavoidable and depression after such a long life history might be inevitable. “Wait and see,” I thought as I returned to my bed-sitter home and continued on with my reading education, after a month or two of relaxation and recuperation. One year on and depression has not yet set in, with my journey of self discovery continuing as I read, write and feel my way to better self awareness and a new cognitive interpretation. One year on I’m re-writing my core self narrative, my life story, as education insights and mind-less awareness exercises allow a better conscious identification of what happens within me, and how that stimulates who I am.

When I get those familiar up-spiral or down-spiral energies of bipolar these days I now know what it is and what to do about it. So now my left brained rationality is more in synch with my right brained emotive intuition and I don’t fret over the discharge of metabolic energy, that my frustrated heart is flushing through my brain and nervous system. These days I recognize the energy for what it is, as my natural capacities give vent to their heart toned sensations of life.

“Sit in a room and read–and read and read. And read the right books by the right people.
Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning
rapture all the time.” _Joseph Campbell

Twelve months on from that last raging psychosis I’m still reading, still writing, still continuing my sojourn of self revelation. Following the advice of personal hero’s I read, read and re-read letting new knowledge settle in through the metabolic processes of my body/brain. I'm still delightedly bemused at the formation of intuitive new ideas born within those synaptic connections of my evolved mammalian brain. Still delighted at my flights of manic energy when this old heart of mine allows me to dance away the night, and these days the shameful arrows of condemning looks no longer evoke a depressive reaction, here in a different culture.

During the return home to Australia last year I took precautions for the future, I did buy the sleeping pills I’d used for over a decade to get me through manic sleepless nights. I’m happy to report that in 12 months I’ve only used them once though, just after my return when painful memories of that first 24 hours in Sydney kept me awake. Since then I’ve learnt to let the energies go better than ever before, after a breakthrough realization that muscular tensions underpin the energy tones of my heart and its blood infusion of my brain. Its a process I've written about and posted information links to on my Bipolar Batesy blog site.

A process like today when I’ve had all the familiar self stimulated thoughts of positive energy needs, required to motivate and move my writing forward. Emotively toned thinking with all the usual spiritual themes and characters has flooded my mind, yet I now know the positive intent and how not to amplify and maintain this energy state with continuous compulsive thinking. Today I know how to let it go through the practice of muscular relaxation, particularly the muscles of my face where I manifest so much of my intentional needs.

Today with a mindless letting go of mediation like practice, I try to catch the gap between the spark and flame as Buddha teaches, that point were my instinctual reaction becomes a mindful awareness. Perhaps I’m finding it in muscular tensions as the motor cortex fires intensional needs milliseconds before the neo-cortex firing of my conscious perceptions? Perhaps I’m finding a balance here between Western scientific research and Eastern philosophical practice?

Today I’m happy to report that my authentic journey of self revelation continues almost two years into my Thailand adventure. Today I welcome with joyfully open arms whatever life will bring me next, no longer ashamed, no longer afraid of my own body,/brain and its thirst for living, for life with all its varying degrees of good and bad experience in whatever particular circumstance.

Be well,

Here is the comment congratulating Stephen on his new role as president of MIND.

Batesy57 says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
6 November, 2011 at 6:05 am

Dear Stephen,

Polar Opposites indeed:))

Congratulations on the honor in being the successor to an author of that “Book Of Books,” nice coincidental irony of science, faith and belief, perhaps?

As a thirty one year survivor of the bipolar experience I can’t agree with the objective logic of our medical model of disease like illness though. It is sad that our mainstream awareness of this condition is so dominated by commercially funded science, dedicated to the management of emotional crisis, not its empirical cause.

Beyond this mainstream, mechanistic paradigm view there is as much emerging science suggesting natural cause for mental anguish in all its guises, as there is in the myopic research into the brain & gene origins alone. Research that suggests an instinctual foundation to our mental function & dysfunction, although one shy’d away from in daily reality through fear of contagion.

It is fascinating to contemplate why egg head intellectuals shy away from the body and refuse to contemplate the nervous systems role in so-called mental illness? Is not simply a happy accident which first discovered lithium’s affect on mood? It not simply the medical profession’s role in dealing with mental anguish that see’s it adopt a disease view?

New research based on systems theory now understands the chaotic nature of early life encounters with the external environment, in shaping the neural architecture of the still maturing brain and nervous system. Systems theory and Stephen Porges discovery of a third branch to our evolved mammalian autonomic nervous systems hints at the instinctual nature of madness states.

Although our social evolution shy’s away from an awareness of animal instincts prefering to keep faith with older notions of great God’s in the sky, like in Melvyn’s great book? After all, how could there possibly be an instinct for depression, for God’s sake, where’s the mainstream commonsense in that idea? Consider;

“Humans have three principal defense strategies—fight, flight, and freeze. The Polyvagal Theory describes three developmental stages of a mammal’s autonomic nervous system: Immobilization, mobilization, and social communication or social engagement. Faulty neuroception might lie at the root of several psychiatric disorders, including autism, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, depression, and Reactive Attachment Disorder. We are familiar with fight and flight behaviors, but know less about the defense strategy of immobilization, or freezing. This strategy, shared with early vertebrates, is often expressed in mammals as “death feigning.”

After 31 years of experience and a lot of self education I no longer believe in the mainstream model of mental illness, having uncovered the inner unconscious stimulation to my classic manic depression, I manage myself very well without medication and continue to evolve my own self awareness, writing about it with examples like the above, taken from chapter four of my memoir of madness.

Be well,
David Bates.
Nature’s Madness: A Memoir of Mental Illness & Recovery
Recovery: A journey tasked by the trials of loss, misconnection, despair & hope’s resurrection.


I admit that I forgot to include the attribution to Stephen Porges in my quote of his "The Polyvagal Theory." and can be accused of self promotion. Yet there has been no contact to explain the comments non appearance, or advice on the error of my ways. Equally there has been no contact about the deletion of my post on the forum. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining Robert Whitaker's poignant question about what maintains the illusion that our current era of pharmacology has improved outcomes for long term mental illness treatment?

I'm not a champion for those in the anti-psychiatry movement that seeks to shame and blame psychiatry in exactly the same way it feels hurt & shamed. However I do take exception to this kind of arbitrary reaction that seeks to limit debate for God knows what useful reason. As I point out in the "My Anniversary October - Why no Depression This Time?" post, I'm 12 months on from acting out a psychosis mostly on The-Icarus-Project website, where I meet exactly the same arbitrary reaction at that time.

My posts on Icarus where soon met with the same constricted and suspicious response I would have found in any mainstream hospital in America or elsewhere in the western world. Although at first because I wanted to point out alternative scientific views of mental illness, I was considered a shill for big pharma, some kind of infiltrator sent to divide anarchist opinion.

Sadly it seems we are still far from understanding the roots of our common humanity & its all too often unconscious & instinctual reactions. Too many of us assume that criticism is anything more than self empowering need, a simple instinctive reaction, and not a critique of reason.

I trust however, that should this information ever find its way to the eyes or ears of our beloved Fry, he will not react with a simple closed minded judgment.

Here is a link to another Stephen's equally giant intellect, who is seeking to uncover the roots of mental anguish and the possible natural cause of human mental illness;
Neuroception and Mental Health Disorders?