You really need to just click on over and watch the video, then read the accompanying article, then watch the video again. It is just so right on. I have nothing more to say.
All posts tagged lies
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on March 20, 2017
Want your eyes to bug right out of your head? Just for fun, read this article. You’ll get an eye-opener, all right. I have to giggle a bit at the outrage of righteous Brits, discovering that their millions of pounds are being used to glorify terrorists and terrorism. Brits who under the best of circumstances have a hard time deviating from the straight-laced upfront meat-and-potatoes, bless them. The very idea that British charity should be used to pay non-existent public servants, to put on school plays about how to execute Israeli soldiers!
Well, at least the American Reform Judaism people aren’t falling for that! Nope. I hear that an extended, ecstatic Kumbaya session resulted from Rabbi Rick’s goodwill mission to Ramallah. Hope he’s not a vegetarian. I hear Abu Mazen throws a mean kebab party! Make mine limonana, I’m not drinking today.
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on March 13, 2017
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on December 30, 2015
Pam Tillis co-wrote the song that goes, “Just call me Cleopatra, everybody, ’cause I’m the Queen of Denial.” If you want to see her video, which is just wall-to-wall packed with cultural stereotypes (somewhat embarrassing) but pretty funny, look here. It would give Edward Said, author of Orientalism, an epileptic fit.
When I was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, I took a graduate-level seminar in Cultural Anthropology. There, they liked to throw around words like “hermeneutics.” When I asked what that meant, the professor grew red in the face and told me that if I didn’t know, then I shouldn’t be asking. Hmm. Kind of like my mother’s favorite retort when I’d ask her what I’d done to deserve punishment: “If you don’t know, then I’M certainly not going to tell you!
I don’t believe they knew what the word “hermeneutics” meant (it’s the theory of text interpretation, especially Biblical or scholarly). I found out, though, quite by accident. We were supposed to read Orientalism and write a paper on it to discuss in seminar. So I read the book. I thought it was a pompous, reverse-racist take on the “Western” ideas in art, music, film, and literature supposedly misrepresenting the Arab world. But I have a nasty habit of reading footnotes and actually reading the original sources. It takes a bit longer, but you can discover amazing things: like, for example, that the primary sources cited in the footnotes say something quite different than the author, in this case Said, made them out to be.
I brought a stack of these primary sources (we had libraries full of real books back then) to show my “hermeneutics” professor what I had found. But oh dear, it seems I had shot a sacred cow! For the sin of debunking Said’s theory by means of his own references (not to mention proving that he had committed a crime by misrepresenting the references as supporting his theory, when in fact they often said exactly the opposite of what he said they did), I was hauled before a tribunal (hauled before a tribunal! I am not kidding you). I was only a nobody undergraduate, but they didn’t want this accidental discovery of mine to get out. I had to withdraw my paper and promise never to mention it again, if I wanted to get my degree from that venerable wellspring of hermeneutics.
Last week I wrote about the deplorable scene that erupted when I came out to my parents that I had been forced to resort to prostitution when I ran away from them at the age of 16. So far, neither of them has asked me why I ran away. I take that back: my father did once, when he thought he was dying, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell him. I have wondered ever since if I did the right thing or not. I tell myself that I didn’t want to distress him when he was so ill, but I really think it’s fear. In fact, I know it’s fear.
The result of my revelation was a major catastrophic scene, blaming me for depriving them of their only child, and therefore I deserved whatever I got. Not surprisingly, I had a major meltdown as a result of all that, and a flareup of physical symptoms as well as some serious PTSD flashbacks, nightmares, what have you.
I got an ugly email from my mother the next day, accusing me of accusing her of putting me out on the street to work as a prostitute (huh?), and of committing the crime of saying such things in the presence of my father, a “sick old man.”
Rather than engage with her and start a war, I rolled over like my dog does when she thinks she has done something bad, in appeasement, so I won’t scold her for peeing on the carpet. I wrote her back and said I was sorry that she had perceived such things, that I never intended that she should perceive such things, and that I certainly never intended that she should perceive that I had accused her of such things.
Indeed, I did not roll over so far as to say that I was sorry if I hurt her or sorry to deprive her of her only child, etc., because those are delusions. I am in no way sorry for crimes I did not commit. I am in no way sorry that I read Said’s primary sources and exposed him as a liar, and I am in no way sorry that I came out and told my parents that I was forced to prostitute myself when I ran away from them.
Here’s what I am sorry for: I’m sorry that I don’t have the courage to tell them why I left. I’m sorry that I don’t have the courage to face my mother and tell her that her screaming and her name-calling and her gaslighting and her growling “I can’t stand you” time and time again, drove me to the brink of suicide and I had to get out of there. I’m sorry that I can’t tell her that for those reasons and more, I preferred to live on the street and get raped again and again. At least that was an honest danger.
But everyone loves her. Just today someone came to visit and was gushing about how sweet she is. I had to get out of there. Yes, I know that’s the way people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder operate. They are just so sweet, such pillars of the community, such advocates for the underdog–on the outside. But on the inside of the book, there’s a rat stinking. A living lie that never gets past the door, and nobody is reading the footnotes.
And so, the day after the messy tribunal, and after the non-apologetic apology, I was expecting the cold shoulder, the “silent treatment” as she likes to call it. That’s what I can usually expect after an outburst of honesty. But wonder of wonders, she was just as cheerful and chipper as can be! We can’t afford to actually deal with this, because I’m needed to help care for my dad, who is indeed a “sick old man.” And it seems that we can’t afford the possible consequences of driving me away again with insults and gaslighting. So I was spared the usual aftermath of a moment of honesty. I can’t say it’s not a relief. But I’m still spooky, waiting for the other shoe to fall.
So for now there is a lull in the action. I’m debating whether to dive back into anonymity with this blog. I’m terrified that sooner or later, she or one of her friends will find it and out me. I mean, I’ve already outed myself, but I’m starting to regret it, because of the possible consequences. I’m trying real hard to stay in the footnotes and not be afraid of the tribunal. But I don’t know if I can hold out with this fear and tension much longer, because she hasn’t read the references, and wouldn’t believe them if she did.
On the other hand, what’s the price of living in fear?
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on December 18, 2013
I got so excited writing my last post that I forgot to mention the “family tradition” part! So here it is, in all its sad gory. Yes, that’s what I wrote: sad gory.
Let’s start with the unfortunate fact that the first time I heard anything whatsoever about my family’s mental health history was when my mother came to visit me during my first psychiatric hospitalization. That’s when she chose to open up about the fact that her own mother had been hospitalized countless times for depression, and had hundreds of ECT (Electro-Convulsive Therapy) treatments, many of them AT HOME, where my mother and her sister had to hold their mother down on the bed while the doctor administered the treatments. Apparently at that time they did not anesthetize the patient, but just let ‘er rip with the voltage.
Then poor Nana got hooked on Miltown, and after that, various barbiturates, which the doctors later switched over to benzodiazepines. When she was put in a nursing home, her dose of Librium was limited to doctor’s orders, far less than the dose she was used to. “They didn’t want her to become addicted.” She already was addicted, the fools. She used to get other people to sneak her a stash, which she always put in the drawer of her bedside table, and the nurses’ aides always confiscated. Then she would call me (I was a med student at the time) and beg me to prescribe her some more. I always had to say the same thing: “I’m sorry, Nana, I can’t do that. I would if I could.”
I felt bad for her, since she was really an addict, and why should they deprive a 90 year old woman of her comfort? Benzodiazepine withdrawal is a terrible thing. Luckily Tricyclic Antidepressants came along and saved her some suffering.
And now for my father’s side of the family. The first to come up was my Great-Uncle Benny, who was my paternal grandmother’s brother. He was a doctor, and the two siblings had escaped from the Ukraine just before the Bolshevik Revolution, when terrible pogroms were decimating Jewish communities. Their parents sent them to America to escape the atrocities. Unfortunately, Benny “had a breakdown” sometime after reaching New York, was put into Rockland State Hospital, and was never heard from again. The family just shut the door on him and assumed that he had lived there till he died. That’s what my mother told me, anyway.
But. On a hunch, I looked him up in Ancestry.com and by using all the data that I had about Uncle Benny found a living son, in California. So it seems that the man the family threw away DID get out of the hospital, and went on to have a life and a family. But to MY family, Uncle Benny went into the black hole of the hospital and never came out. And I don’t blame him for not getting back in touch with them!
And then there was my Grandpa on my father’s side, who married Benny’s sister. Grandpa became overwhelmingly depressed at the age of thirty or so, and never recovered. His doctor, who was a cousin of my grandmother’s, (and actually a urologist, if the truth be known), advised that he spend winters in Florida instead of upstate New York (where they lived), and knowing what we now know about light and its effects on depression, that was good advice. But Grandpa was never able to work, never able to do much at all. He had no treatment whatsoever for his depression. He lived a miserable life until the age of 91. I have great pity for him, having to live so long in that hell, even though he was very unpleasant to be around.
Speaking of the doctor who was a cousin of my grandmother, who would have been Uncle Benny’s, um, second cousin once removed, or something like that–anyway, one of his sons committed suicide.
So here I was, in the hospital, having felt terrible literally my entire life, and I do not exaggerate here–I cannot remember a time when I did not feel terrible, as a baseline, with episodes of euphoria that unfailingly got me into some kind of trouble–and only then was I told that the genetic cards had been stacked against me. And I was forty-five years old.
I felt as if a closet had been opened and a whole family’s worth of skeletons came tumbling out with a crash and a shattering of bones, some of them mine.
Why had I not been told? The impact on my life was so profound. If I had known, then I could have sought help as a young adult, after I left home, at least–since my parents believed in psychiatry only for other people, not any of us: that was for crazy people, and they drugged you up and you were a zombie. Well, that may have been true, for some people, because the medicines they had back then were crude. But they certainly did have psychotherapists back then, and I sure could have used one. At the very least I would have had some insight into why I felt terrible all the time, and not have to feel like I was some kind of freak.
But our family history was seen as an embarrassment to be hushed up and stuffed into the closet, skeleton by skeleton, and the door wallpapered over and that part of history as good as erased. Until I came along and broke up the party.
I will never forget the shock I felt, after I had lost my medical practice and had a serious breakdown as a result, and my first hospitalization–I ran into a bevy of my mother’s friends in a parking lot, and they all started cooing about how my mother had said my practice was flourishing and how well I was doing. I had a moment of mental white-out and then said, “Well, actually, no. I’ve lost my practice, and just got out of the mental hospital.” Then I turned on my heel and walked off, noting with satisfaction their jaws resting on their shoe-tops while flies flew in and out of their big mouths. But it really wasn’t their fault. They were just told a pack of lies.
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on November 24, 2013