I long to scandalize psychiatry.
Even as I don’t really believe in the power of scandals.
But when I was standing in my isolation cell inside the closed psychiatric ward, my belief in an imminent scandal was the one thing that made this unbearable moment somehow my own.
„STOP THE ABUSE!“ This is what I had written on the wall, with chocolate pudding. There was also a meat-spread sandwich, which I mashed up on the mattrass, to represent an abortion. And I had used a piece of a bounty bar as mascara for my eyelashes. This is how I had found a purpose for each item of my dinner plate.
„Come as soon as possible and take pictures of how they find me when they open to isolation cell,“ I had texted a friend. Hence I stood there, in my white hospital gown, my arm extended to point to my message on the wall. I meant all abuse – in all the abusive relationships, in the torture prisons in Abu Ghreib and Chicago, in the supermax prisons, and also here, in this psychiatric ward of Theodor-Wenzel-Werke in Berlin Zehlendorf.
I was staring at the door and waiting for my allies to arrive and free me. The pictures would be shown all over the news and social media. This ward would need to close.
Later, when I was outside again, each dreary day conjoining with the last dreary day, an alienating understanding settled inside myself: what I had experienced inside the psychiatric institution was not a scandal, and not a reason for closure, but just normal operations.
The purpose of this website is to use the power of my knowledge about the inseparability of ’scandal‘ and ’normal‘. I want to develop its organizing power rather than letting it continue to singularize and further isolate. I chose the name ENTISOLIEREN (in German) and DEISOLATE (in English) because these words suggest an active process that starts at opening the isolation cells and untying the shackles, but isn’t finished there..
Psychiatric violence is in continuation with other violence. Violence which is concentrated in many spaces that are similarily secluded-from-publicity yet deprived-of-privacy: families dominated by violence, jails, deportation centers and other prisons, refugee camps, residential homes, colonies, military occupations. Psychiatry operates in a world shaped by colonialism, enslavement, heteropatriarchy and racism. This is why I am not interested in making a scandal in the usual sense of the word. That type of scandal would presuppose that there is a morally apt public, whose outrage about a particular grievance is effective precisely because it coincides with acceptence of the rest of the ’normal‘ status quo.
The scandal that interests me is ongoing. It is nourished by a horror that has no room to express itself because it will not be fittet into false templates. It is nourished by the consciousness of one’s life being finite. It is not afraid of madness. It longs for freedom, joy, love, and solidarity.
For these reasons, also, not everything written on this website is about psychiatry. There is also work about Palestine. It is about freedom…
Prior to my psychaitric institutionalization, I was a graduate student. For seven years, I studied at History of Consciousness, an interdisciplinary doctoral program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I name this background because my experience of psychiatry was in continuity with my experience of the university. When I was lying, tied up, in my isolation cell in the psychiatry ward (this was probably a few hours after the scene that I narrated above), I was seen by a Gutachter, a sort of referee, from the district office, to assess if the violence inflicted on me was all right and lawful. He asked about the subject of my dissertation. Never, even in less violent incounters, had I enjoyed doing small talk with authority figures about my research on constructions of the self in Freudian psychoanalysis and beyond… While I was horrified at the situation, I did not feel that I was experiencing something completely new, but rather something painfully familiar, in clearer form. What was new was that I remained adamantly silent.
Psychiatry was the event that showed me the exit from the academy, and for this I am grateful. I may (or may not) some day do something in/for a university again, but what I mean with having found the exit is that I do not look to the academy as I look to fulfill the needs of my professional and social existence.
I managed to find a side-entry into the field of social work, which provides security for my material and social existence. I have a job in a psychosocial contact and counceling center (Kontakt- und Beratungsstelle), tasked with the target group „refugees“ in the area of mental health. (I am currently on parental leave.) Hence, I am not only survivor of psychiatry but, by virtue of my job, also its beneficiary. Likewise, I am a beneficiary of the so-called „refugee crisis,“ and, in fact, of the psychiatrization of refugees.
I have a dream to devote myself more to the work represented at this website, when I find a way to generate income from it.
I am proud to have built this website myself and to have created a forum for my intellectual work, where I hope to shape a relationship with my community in a more self-determined and more beautiful way than on (corporate) social media and in the academy.
Who knows what will be tomorrow
There is so much to learn. I am shaped by the colonial and racist (non-)knowledge that dominates ‚Western Media,‘ school and university curricula and cultural production (even though I have been working against it for years). In studying the history of psychiatric survivor movements I am still quite a beginner. Nonetheless, I hurry to launch this website. It will document my process of searching for allies and new possibilities. Who knows what will be tomorrow… In this spirit I say: Welcome to my website!