On being more than diagnosis

Based in part on an older post. 

On diagnosis

You are not the things

You are called

No matter how frequently

you are called them,

Or who calls

Or why they call.

You are not the things

you are like

regardless of how much

you are like them.

You are not

the things that measure you,

that place you

or limit you.

You are not

what you have,

how you look,

or how you feel.

You may be many things,

But no thing is all you are.

You are a gift

in a world needing gifts,

an opportunity,

a miracle,

in a world that often believes in neither.

You can care and be cared for,

Touch and be touched,

Laugh and cry,

Live and live for.

You can be alone or be with,

be brave or be scared.

Nothing is closed,

but nothing is free.

Close not your eyes

And reach to be all you can be

Classificatory systems do not explain. They describe. Sometimes they do not describe very well, but they never explain. They are meant to tell you what someone is like and not what someone is.   The territory is not the map and we are always more than what describes us.  We have turned a description of people who experience life in a certain way into an explanation of why they experience life in that manner.

 In the 1920’s social psychologists explained everything by claiming that people did things because they had an instinct to do so. Eventually they realized that this was just circular thinking. It made no sense to say people acted in a certain way because they had an instinct to do so and believe that explained anything. Giving something a name and saying the name explained the thing it was attached to was a pseudo explanation. Diagnoses are the same. Describing a pattern of experience and then claiming the name you give explains the pattern is simply a foolish way to think.

This is from a previous post on this site called “The Diagnostic Fallacy…..” :

In regard to the DSM the biggest fallacy that I see is not the proposal for a better diagnostic system but the fallacy that any diagnostic system is going to make things better.  There is a difference in believing  that a diagnosis might tell you something useful about someone and believing that it can tell you something fundamentally true about him.  In the first instance the diagnosis is a map about a portion of someone’s experience which like all maps serves to guide you and inform you about how to make  decisions about what to do.  In the second the diagnosis is not a map to the truth, but the truth itself.  It leads you to the ultimately destructive conclusion that a person is what you have decided to call him.  The results in every form of human endeavor throughout history have proved time after time the tragedy of this.   The history of the mental health system in this country has been too much a history of ultimately cruel and mean things being done to “mentally ill” people that we convince ourselves are being done for their own good.  The lived experience of countless people is that labels, rather they be “scientific” or not, carry with them a great deal of prejudice and discrimination.  Any professional who believes the act of labeling, regardless of the scientific language they cloak it in, is a morally neutral act is out of touch with the world of the people he labels.”

Amen

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