Monday, August 18, 2008

Must I submit?

Finished reading George Orwell's 1984 last week, though I only just now updated my blog to reflect that. It was an interesting read, but for someone with paranoia and an uncertain grasp on reality, this book played into many of the fears and confusion that reign inside my own mind.

One part in particular really got to me. It is towards the end of the book, where Winston is being tortured in the Ministry of Love by O'Brien and they are talking about the Party slogan: "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past". Winston comments that the Party can't completely control the past because it is in people's minds, their memories, and there is no way the Party can have control over those. To this, O'Brien responds....

"On the contrary," he said, "you have not controlled it. That is what has brought you here. You are here because you have failed in humility, in self-discipline. You would not make the act of submission which is the price of sanity. You preferred to be a lunatic, a minority of one. Only the disciplined mind can see reality, Winston. You believe that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own right. You also believe that the nature of reality is self-evident. When you delude yourself into thinking that you see something, you assume that everyone else sees the same thing as you. But I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes; only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact you have to relearn, Winston. It needs an act of self-destruction, an effort of the will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane."

In reading that paragraph, I found myself replacing the words "the Party" with "Psychiatry" and putting myself in Winston's shoes. Except my torture is being in therapy, on mind altering medications and being locked in the psych ward. Being tortured and told that I must submit to the truth of "Psychiatry". That my memories, my idea of reality, are merely delusions that I need to be purged of in order to be sane.

This is something that will haunt me for a long time to come. It has brought to the forefront all the doubts regarding the validity of psychiatry I've pondered and posted about over the years, and will probably interfere with the progress I may or may not have been making in my attempt to regain some semblance of sanity. At this point, I almost wish I hadn't read the book.


Anonymous YogaforCynics said...

Having been forced into therapy for much of my childhood and pretty much all of my adolescence, I can relate. The fucking shrink wasn't working to help me be who I wanted to be, but who he thought I should be, and maybe his interpretation of what my parents thought I should be. I learned to resist, but at the cost that, even now, decades later, I find it incredibly difficult to open to anyone. At the same time, I have had more positive experiences with therapists as shrinks. The key is to make sure you're in the driver's seat, and that the shrink understands that's how it's gonna be....

6:29 PM, August 20, 2008  

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