RIP, Charleena Lyles. Mental Health Treatment Is A Joke.

For a long time, I’ve always thought that psychiatry is a joke, a clownish affair, a profession for buffoons who couldn’t guess their way out of a paper bag. I’ve even blogged about it in the past few months, especially in relation to me. Psychiatry and psychology has failed me; pills don’t help. All they do is infuriate me and perhaps even make me crazier. I’ve also stated that, if I had a serious psychotic break in public, the only way society would know how to deal with it is put me down like a dog.

And then that’s exactly what happened this past week.

I live in the same apartment complex as Charleena Lyles, Charleena was 30 years old with four kids and the fifth on the way. Like me, Charleena was black, homeless, and suffering from mental health. In essence, she was the female version of me. She called the police Sunday morning about a burglary in her house. Words were exchanged, bullets flew, and Charleena died in the presence of three of her kids. The police had the audacity to say the kids were unharmed. Of course they were harmed. They’re psychologically fucked for life, that’s how they were harmed.

Once again, the most vulnerable of this society has been failed. Societies like NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will come along, speak to the press, and say, “This tragedy could’ve been prevent.” Yeah, no shit. Can NAMI prevent it? Or any organizations that claims to assist the mentally ill? Nope. As far as I’m concerned, all they’re doing is picking up a paycheck because, guess what, their advocacy don’t mean squat in the real world. There will be another Charleena tomorrow, only this time she’ll be called Robin.

Sensory Friendly Movie Theater? Should Be Sensory Unfriendly!

It’s been a while since I’ve been to the movies so I thought I’d peruse what’s playing in the cineplexes and megaplexes these days. I noticed that, in a few theaters, Cars 3 was being screened in “sensory friendly” theaters. According to Deer Park Cinemas in Port Angeles, sensory friendly means that the lights will be on, the sound will be turned down, and kids can be as noisy as they wish. That’s sensory friendly? To an autistic kid that’s a sensory nightmare! How is somebody supposed to concentrate on the screen when all those sensory triggers are firing off in all directions? There’s no way I’d be able to sit through a sensory friendly screening. Five minutes past the opening credits and I’ll haul ass, never to return again. All “Sensory Friendly” says to me is “Brat Friendly.” Nope. Sorry. Nice try at political correctness, though. However, epic fail!

I’m On The Forks Apts Waitlist

Oh, happy day. The Peninsula Housing Authority just notified me this week that my name was added to their waitlist. The wait, they claim, is between 6 months to 3 years, with preference given to the elderly, disabled, employment or schooling. Since I’m of the disabled flavor, my wait shouldn’t be too long.

In other news, I can’t wait to begin the 3rd and final act of my life. Hopefully, it’ll be trauma-free and bereft of all that crap I went through over the past 30/40 years. I don’t have any specific plan in place, though. The idea would be to just live as safely and quietly as possible, make no waves, visit a therapist every two weeks or so, stay on my HTN medication, and just…live. As far as making music again, I think that’s history. Every so often I feel like plucking the strings of an axe, but I know how I am. I can’t just pluck those strings in my bedroom; I have to do it on stage, so why bother? There is a place for live music in Forks. Hopefully, I don’t catch that bug again.

Barring a stroke or some other cataclysmic illness, I will be writing. I’ve gotta do something with the time I have left, right? Part of me would like to dip my toes into film making again. That’d be a hoot. I’m really stretching here, but I can see me making a small indie, most likely horror, up in Forks where I handle the duties of writing, editing and directing. That would necessitate me buying a new super computer and video cam which, from my research, would set me back about $6,000 for the whole shebang. We’ll see.

One last note. Small towns, villages, hamlets, etc are known for their safety. I’m hoping that Forks, being a small town even though it’s designated as a city, is pretty safe. I have been reading a lot lately about the proliferation of meth and heroin in America’s small towns, and I believe it. I spent just one night in Lodge Grass, a town of 950 people in eastern Montana, and learned the next day that meth had overpowered the town. I also just recently read that the Quileute Reservation near Forks, as well as other reservation in Washington, are where people go to get their drugs. Out of the necessity of survival, I can understand why natives sell drugs. Too bad there’s always a certain amount of violence that accompanies the drug trade. Who knows? Maybe some day they’ll all be legal, like in Portugal, and crime would decrease. Only Time Will Tell.

Journaling Exercise

In my SUDS class this morning, the teacher gave us this exercise consisting of four questions. I’ve written both the questions and my answers here. I’m supposed to do this journaling exercise every day. I will, but not here on Writings of an American Author. I’ll just keep future exercises in my head.

  1. What did I do for myself today that made me feel good about myself? I allowed cars exiting from gas stations, department stores and other places of business to cut in front of me in my lane in traffic. I also went to DSHS and asked them if SSA reported my disability award to them. They said no and I can deal with that tomorrow because they were going to close early for the day. I then went to the landlord here and asked them the same thing. They said there’s no rush and I can deal with it next week.
  2. What did I do for someone else? I gave someone a ride to the SUDS group this morning and gave someone else a lift to their home after the group. Later today, I gave my first passenger another ride, this time to a soup kitchen. I also stood with him while he was smoking his cigarettes outside, as well as sit and watch a movie with him. I also listened to his stories of the disturbing behaviors and delusional beliefs he had when he was high on meth.
  3. Where did I have difficulty? The cigarette smoking bits. Personally, I’d rather not hang out with someone who is smoking because it smells and the smoke makes my eyes water. I really wish he’d take the hint that I’d rather not be around it, but part of me says I’m simply earning karma points by giving him much needed support.
  4. What happened today that made me glad to be alive? I haven’t lost my writing skills. I completed the rough outline for my latest short story, a story which I hope to finish in about two weeks. I also autographed three of my books that an employee from this transitional house had bought from Amazon. Another employee here also told me she bought one of my books. Tres cool!

Thinking About Moving to Forks, WA

Seattle is all well and good, but frankly, now that I’m older, I want a slower pace of life, something a little more relaxing and laid back. Being on fixed income (SSDI), I’m relegated to living in buildings in neighborhoods I’m not so fond of; specifically, I’m referring to downtown Seattle. Outside of downtown, the suburbs are quite expensive. I could probably afford a studio there, but really, since I have no ties to this city, I’ve been thinking about pursuing the third act of my life in simpler surroundings.

After several days of research, I’ve decided that Forks just might be the ticket. I’ve already applied to the Peninsula Housing Authority for a one-bedroom in one of the four buildings they own there. Hopefully, because I’m disabled and homeless, that should push me near the top of their waiting list. I’m quite sure I won’t miss the noise and congestion of a big city. Since I’m no longer a musician, I don’t have to try and maintain a close relationships to the music scene, the night clubs, the concert venues, or anything related to live performance. I won’t miss the movie theaters and art museums, either. I’d say that, over the years, I’ve had my fill of all those things. Just give me a good computer and the internet and I’m all set.

Forks is a tourist town; a lot of their revenue used to come from the mills, now it comes from people chasing the “Twilight” feel. I’m not into the “Twilight” books or movies, so that element is lost on me. What I do like is that Forks, just a small town of nearly 4,000 people, contains everything I need – a food bank, restaurants, a public library, auto repair and parts shops, rivers and forests galore, internet, 24 hr convenience stores, a clothing consignment store, medical clinics as well as mental health and substance abuse counseling, NA meetings, and a college that, maybe, I might be able to tutor people in ESL, writing or GED testing. Most of all, the one-traffic-light town is small; reminds me of Woodstock, NY, a place I’d originally like to retire in but is too expensive for me. Forks is a “3 hour drive plus ferry ride” distance from here. Since I just replaced all four tires on my car and had other under-the-hood work done on my little gas-guzzling hoopdie, I’d like to drive up there to check out the place, maybe this Saturday. We’ll see.

Abilify and Prazosin

To appease my psychiatrist, to make her happy, I recently started two meds – Abilify and Prazosin. Abilify is being used for the treatment of depression and bipolar disorder; Prazosin if for my high blood pressure, PTSD and sleep tremors. So far, the side effects I’ve encountered are this: teeth grinding with the Abilify.  A few months ago I experienced one frightful moment of syncope which lasted for about 4 to 5 minutes when I was sitting in the Northgate Mall. I’m not sure if the Prazosin I had started around that time was the blame for that one, but according to literature I’ve encountered, it can cause it. Side effects suck. They really do. Makes it seem like taking the pills are a waste of time. I’ll have to seriously think about whether I want to continue them or not, or end up one of the statistics in the chart posted above.

The Affect [sic] of Primitive Instincts on Modern Male Behavior

(This post was culled from the website of Wayne This and That).

A theory of why men sometimes do crazy things

In 1932 Robert E. Howard created one of the most enduring characters of all time: Conan the Barbarian. Conan was described as someone in whom the veneer of civilization was very thin. The idea was that at heart Conan, and to a lesser extent all men, were closer to the beasts than they appeared. The civilized world in which we live seems like it’s been with us forever and that we’ve changed because of it. In fact, for the roughly 3,000,000 years that humans, in one form or another, have lived on earth, the vast majority of that time the bulk of humanity lived under caveman conditions. It’s only been during the last 2,000 years that most people have lived in cities under civilized conditions. While there were large cities before that, most people lived on the land far removed from them. All the changes in humanity we associate with civilization, like growing taller, stronger, living longer, are in response to better living conditions and food. They aren’t evolutionary changes. Evolution is a powerful driving force in the shaping of a lifeform, but it works very slowly. The upshot is that while it’s true that civilized life is having an evolutionary effect on humanity, it’s only been in force for two thousand years. Most of the evolutionary forces that make us who we are are still determined by the previous 2,998,000 years. In summary: 99.9-percent of what we are is determined by our primitive past. We haven’t evolved into being civilization, we’re just acting like it. Civilized behavior is just a veneer that’s too thin and new to have have become a genetic trait. I believe many of the behaviors we exhibit are still being dictated to us by the primitive instincts of our ancient ancestors. So what are these basic instincts?

1. Men desire to accumulate material wealth. (Men with a strong desire to do so had more food and clothing to help get them through difficult times. More of these men lived and had more children so this desire became hard wired into our genetics.)

2. Men desire power over other men. (More men with this desire ended up getting power over other men. Because they had more people between them and the primitive threats to their lives they lived longer, had more children and passed this programming onto their progeny.)

3. Men desire to mate with as many young attractive women as possible. (Those with stronger mating drives produced more children than those who didn’t so this again became imbedded in our genetic blueprint. The emphasis on young, attractive women is purely practical. Young women are more likely to survive child birth than older women. Attractive women, characterized by symmetric features and clear skin, were less likely to have deformities or diseases that could reduce their chances of surviving child birth. They also had a greater tendency to produce children who were healthier.)

To these basic instincts we need to add one particular feature of the human psyche: substitution. If a man wants something he can’t have, but can substitute something else for it he can fool his subconscious into thinking he’s satisfied that primal instinct. Let’s see how this works.

Example 1: Men and Trucks:

The vast majority of men like driving large powerful vehicles. On a primal level this desire originates from men’s desire for power over other men. Actually getting power over other men is very difficult. A man has to know more than them or be stronger than them or more aggressive than them to work his way up the managerial hierarchy to do so. Even if he can do so, it’s a long, slow, challenging process. On the other hand, any man can buy a large truck with a powerful motor. When he gets in it and steps on the accelerator he feels the engine’s power and on a subconscious level this serves as a substitution for the power over other men he desires. He himself hasn’t changed. He himself doesn’t have power. But the truck does and by identifying himself with the truck he suddenly feels imbued with its power.

Robin’s take on this: Or the man could simply be compensating for the small size of his penis. Just saying.

Example 2: Loud Music:

We’ve all experienced the annoyance of someone blasting the neighborhood with over-based music. For the man playing the music the vibrational power of the music fills him with a sense of power. He isn’t any more powerful, but the loud music makes him feel as if he was. Additionally, he knows he’s forcing everyone within hearing to listen to his music so he gets the thrill of imposing his will on others. Again, he isn’t more powerful than anyone else on the block, but the music makes him feel as if he was. It’s rather like a medieval knight who has the biggest sword. He’s may not be stronger than any other knight but the sword makes him feel as him he was.

Robin’s take on this: Loud, thumping, ghetto, bass-heavy music is also a sign indicating that “the big man” is in town, the head honcho, or as they would say in anthropology class, the Silverback Gorilla, of head gorilla of the group, has arrived.

Example 3: Men Wearing Pants Below Their Buttocks:

Mooning, showing one’s buttocks to someone, is a universally recognized sign of contempt. The modern fad of men to wear there pants below their buttocks and showing their underwear is a soft-porn version of mooning intended to show contempt for the entire world, or at least everyone within viewing distance. Showing contempt for someone implies you are better than them. Actually proving that one man is better than another is difficult, sometimes dangerous and carries the risk that the opposite may turn out to be the case. But, any guy who drops his pants can fool his subconscious into thinking he’s achieved just that. A man can be the biggest looser [sic] in town, but by loosening his belt and lowering his pants he easily creates in himself the illusion that he’s established superiority over everyone he meets.

I have two additional comments pertaining to this particular male activity. First, while I’ve seen hundreds of young men, and a few adult men, do this, I’ve never seen a single female do it. This suggests there are fundamental differences in some of the primal instincts that drive men and women. Second, the constriction of the upper legs by the waistband of the pants almost always forces the male wearing his pants low to waddle like a pregnant woman. There is nothing wrong with a pregnant woman waddling because it’s forced on her by a change in her center of gravity. It’s a natural gate that increases stability and is desirable from a mechanical point of view. But, in an otherwise healthy male it creates a glaring contradiction. He’s wearing his pants low to prove that he’s a man, yet doing so forces him to adopt a gate that is gives the exact opposite impression.

Robin’s take on this: The reason why young men wear their pants down is because they’re emulating their prison buddies. In prison, wearing your pants loosely means you’re willing and ready to be “taken.” In the external ghetto world, the dress style doesn’t mean you want to be approached for sex by another man, but simply that you’re tough-minded like your prison brethren and you don’t care what people think because you’re the boss.

Example 4: Sports Fandom:

Very few men excel enough at sports to satisfy their competitive drive, which comes out a desire to prove they are superior to and therefore have power over other men. Yet they can fool their subconsciousnesses into thinking they do by identifying with a particular player or team by being a fan. When their hero or team wins they feel they’ve won as well. They feel they have power over the other team.

Robin’s take on this: If two groups of territorial animals arrive at the same watering hole at the same time, blood is going to be shed. To the victor go the spoils. Take no prisoners. One group to rule them all. And by all means, make the bloodshed as spectacular as possible so other groups will know that yours is not to be trifled with.

 Example 5: Graffiti: 

If a man tried satisfying his desire to prove he has power over other men by shouting in their faces, he wouldn’t get far before someone shut him up with a fist. Yet the weakest, most cowardly male can spray or scratch anything he wants on a surface open to public viewing and give himself much of the same satisfaction without any of the risk.

Robin’s take on this theory: Territorial Markings. This is one of the most common of primal instinctual behaviours. Leopards and jaguars mark their territory by rubbing themselves against vegetation. (Yes, your house cat does this, too). Wolves, ring-tailed lemurs, wildebeests and monkeys urinate on their areas to let others know to beware.

Example 6: Profanity in Public:

I can’t begin to count the number of times I hear men swearing loudly enough in public for everyone around, including children, to hear. They know they are giving offense and also know very few people will call them on it. They are imposing their will other others not by proving that they actually have power over them in the sense they can force them to protect them, but by being able to annoy them. Again, substitution enables this behaviors to be misinterpreted by the subconscious.

Robin’s take on this: Lions roar. Ravens and crows squawk. Bulls snort. All exaggerated behaviour to warn you to keep your distance because of the potential of getting killed.

Example 7: Obscene T-shirts:

The same as example 6.

Robin’s take on this: The dilophosaurus in Jurassic Park flashes it’s collar to make you scared. Squids squirt ink to blind and confuse you. This would be the same kind of behavior as chest beating amongst gorillas or flashy display of feathers by peacocks and other birds which says, “I’m here, I’m feared, get used to it.”

With the above examples as guidelines, it’s easy to identify why so many men behave as they do. I’ve focused on men’s desire to have power over other men because it’s the most illustrative of the substitution principle. The desire for material wealth originally concerned itself with food and materials for clothing and housing. Substitution isn’t a factor because people can satisfy this need by purchasing all they want. Substitution does play a significant factor is satisfying men’s desire for young attractive women. Few men are able to achieve this yet the desire is there, even if it’s buried in the subconscious. The proliferation of men’s magazines and pornography are the primary substitutions for this primal drive.

I’ve focused on male behaviors because being a man, I’m able to identify them. I’m certain similar primal drives affect women in the same manner, though expressed differently.

Please don’t interpret the above as an excuse for offensive male behavior. It isn’t. Rather, it’s meant to point out the causes for these behaviors in the hope that those forcing these actions on the rest of us will understand that they aren’t really achieving the actual goal and stop doing them.

I’m not a trained psychologist so all of the above is strictly a lay-person’s ramblings. Yet I find that time and time again it explains many male behaviors that are otherwise inexplicable. Next time you witness a man doing something annoying, or ridiculous, try applying the principles on this page to figure out which subconscious primitive instinct is driving that behavior.