Out of mind

In the story there will be two psychiatrists who will play a significant part but will mostly hide in the shadows with barely a mention.

I’ve found various books on psychiatry that I think will help me begin to build the character of these two fictional medical professionals.

Even though it seems likely that the story will be set in fictional places mainly based in English, Welsh and Irish locations that I have lived in or have foggy memories of, there is a chance that I will set the story (or significant parts of it) in places I’ve never been , in the USA, in fictional parts of a mid-western State not unlike Wisconsin.

To a book I’m currently reading very slowly and carefully.. from the first chapter of a book published in 1984 “The Reign of Error: Psychiatry, Authority, and Law.” by Lee Coleman.

When the Chicago police started to arrest Robert Friedman for panhandling in front of a downtown bus station on August 2, 1975, he pleaded, “Don’t take me in. I’m not broke. I didn’t know this was a crime.” He opened his briefcase and revealed to the officers $24,087 in small bills. “A few days later,” according to a report by the Associated Press, “he was committed to a mental institution by a judge who said he was protecting Friedman from thugs who might be after his cash.”
Thugs never got Friedman’s cash, but psychiatry did. He was forced to pay for his incarceration in a psychiatric hospital, and even had to pay the fees for the lawyer who convinced the judge to lock him up. Twelve thousand dollars later, Friedman was finally able to get help form DePaul University law professor Edward J. Benett, who commented “He was committed on the possibility that he would be mugged, beaten and robbed, and instead he’s locked up, filled with drugs and his money is taken gradually instead of in one clean sweep.”
This is an example of what I call psychiatry’s reign of error. I mean by this the exercise of the vast power that our society grants psychiatry and that psychiatry so readily accepts. The immense legal power given to psychiatry is based on faith, not reason. Society assumes that during their training psychiatrists are taught to do all of the things we have come to expect of them. This is a natural assumption. During training psychiatrists get plenty of practice doing psychotherapy. They also learn about psychoactive drugs and the body’s reaction to them. They learn about family relationships, child development, and group therapy. They gain experience offering consultation to medical patients, school personnel, and community agencies. They learn how some medical disorders may lead to mental dysfunction.
Yet, society also expects psychiatrists to go farther—to deal with the ethical and legal issues surrounding deviant behavior, criminal responsibility, public safety. In the process we overlook that psychiatrists are not trained to be expert or scientific in these matters.
The essence of science is objectivity and reliability. In science, personal opinion is replaced by methods of data collection that are replicable. While medicine has many methods of objective data collection, psychiatry’s methods rely on subjective impressions.

Bob Dylan has been in my mind a lot lately. 

To Bob Dylan … well almost. I have recently got into the habit of listening to albums I adored in my childhood. Most of the albums were disappointing to my senses. Is that evidence that I’ve grown up? Most of the albums I enjoyed contained lyrics that seem to be prayers to God. As a youthful fanatic I didn’t take much time to listen closely to the lyrics, I was more interested in the sounds and fantasises of being an idol to the masses one day – yuck. 

I have now started listening to albums that had caught my attention in much more recent times. Johnny Cash’s American Recordings. The music of Scott H. Biram, Those Poor  Bastards, Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, Hank Williams Sr., Lonesome Wyatt and Rachel Brooke.

Lots of old Blues folk are on the agenda, thanks in large part by having become, about twenty years ago, a keen listener of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. I discovered the music that strongly influenced them, ever since then the slide backwards and sideways through blues and folk spacetime has been seemingly infinite.

I am thankful to my father for encouraging me to listen to Bob Dylan, Bessie Smith, Slim Whitman and Leadbelly, when I was on the verge of flying away from the cuckoo coop about twenty years or so ago. During most of my early childhood there was little music at our comfortable council homes in Crouch End. My Irish mother would sometimes listen to folk music when she was a little bit homesick. My parents bought their first house in Hertfordshire in 1986 when I was eight. My English father did not like living in North London. He seemed to be slightly more musically-inclined with the city at our backs. I often ‘borrowed’ some of the cassettes he kept in the glove compartment of his company car. ‘American Pie’ by Don McLean was one of the albums, which I still listen to quite often. He would like to listen to mainly classical music when driving. I think he inherited a taste for some of the music my grandfather enjoyed, especially after Granddad passed away in 1989, sadly before he could witness the demolishing of the Berlin Wall and the series of events which led to the death of the Soviet Union. I’ve gone quite off track here. Sorry.

At the end of February I stumbled upon a 1997 album by Bob Dylan called ‘Time Out of Mind’. Since then I have probably listened to the album more than twenty times. The first time I listened to the album I was not impressed, it seemed rather forgettable. But I was stacking shelves, and the album was on repeat, so over the course of about  five hours I had listened to it  four times.

The first listening was nearly over, and I wanted to change what I was listening to, but I do not like to fiddle with my mobile device whilst on the shop floor. So it looped back to track one, and it sounded like a completely different album. I fell in love with it. Why? 

There are quite a lot of reasons I think.

The only one I feel like mentioning at this time is that I have no doubts in my mind that ‘Time Out of Mind’ is written by somebody who has experienced insanity of one sort or another. It is a lot deeper than it seemed to me on the first listen and it has led to the resurrection of dead memories.


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