Archive for October, 2011

The Oppression of Every Day Life

Posted: October 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

“The wisdom of the fool won’t set you free.”   -New Order

The new paradigm in mental health that we are trying to build must call into question the authoritarian structures of our everyday lives. We cannot separate our health from the society we live in. To do so would be dishonest. Denying the impact of social problems  allows not only for the easy scapegoat of convenient labels and quick fixes, but it also legitimizes bullying. Today I caught myself saying something to the effect of… “Damnit Rusty, you are twenty-seven years old and you still have these problems!” I fell victim to the backwards thinking that life has prescribed stages of growth and development, and that having a career, a steady relationship, and a complete handle on things by the age of 27 is normal and healthy. My point in bringing up this particular situation is that though I absolutely don’t believe any of what I was reprimanding myself for, I was still reprimanding myself! This  bullying, whether coming from oneself or from society, is an everyday reality that is embedded in our subconscious, and is planted right into our language. When we speak of “mental illness” and “functionality” and “human development” we are falling under a harmful paradigm.

When I was a child my mind was a beautiful place to exist in. I saw the beauty in the world. I saw life all around me. Even amidst the green grass of fertilized suburban lawns on sunny summers days playing in the mysterious source of water that flowed endlessly from mechanical sprinklers. I didn’t know about the chemicals in the water, or that my grass was shipped to my house on a truck. I was a satisfied little kid with nothing much to worry about. Once during a spring season baseball game in which I was the chosen right fielder, I ignored a ball coming my way in favor of looking up at the marvelous formations of the ever-shifting snow white clouds. I was five years old. I was allowed to do that. But now people seem to get annoyed if I miss my cues. I’ve learned not to play baseball.

Today I watched a film called Crooked Beauty that beautifully and poetically documents the life story of Jacks, one of the founders of the Icarus Project. (see links above). Jacks is an extraordinary person and a living example of what it looks likes to exist within an alternative paradigm. I found many commonalities between her story and mine. It seems as though we both lived deeply within our childhood fantasies, and found it extremely difficult to assimilate into “normal” society without fear of bullying or being labeled. Though we are both coming from different places and have different and unique struggles, the social reality that we live in normalizes things that we would consider neurotic. Working 9 to 5, saving for retirement, having static careers, caring about credit scores, football scores, and living isolated from our community all seems insane! We must work not only to dismantle oppression, but to dismantle the language of oppression, the philosophical paradigms and social realities that legitimize oppression. It’s a long road ahead, but after seeing the film tonight I am encouraged beyond words by the witness of Jack and the Icarus Project. Thanks for all your years of support, Icarus Organizers!


Suppressing Our Wild Nature

Posted: October 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Wilhelm Reich was a revolutionary psychotherapist of the mid-1900’s. He was revolutionary  in the sense that he brought the destructive factors of society and political life into the realm of his therapy. In what I would call his most influential book, Character Analysis, Reich showed that the suppression of our wild nature invariably causes neurosis- or imbalance. Living within a moralistic culture that teaches to suppress sexual desires, and a political structure that thrives off of class struggle, it is no surprise that we see the kind of fragmentation and mental instability that we do. Suppressing instinctual desires leads to a build up of the accumulated un-used energy, and can manifest in severe anxiety, come out in mis-directed anger, or in time create a whole character structure that acts as a defense mechanism to the outer world. In the United States, puritanism and religious sentimentalism beg us to suppress sexuality, and police, parents and school teachers warn us not to openly voice our discontent. This is the foundation of suppression, which can be seen as the current foundation of our country. The therapeutic process then requires us to break through our hindrances and scream loudly for our freedom. We must create a culture of unhindered expression if we want to live in a healthy society!


Posted: October 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

When it comes to fostering a space of safety and healing, as the Gainesville Icarus Project attempts to do, I have found that there tends to be no sure structure. When navigating the complexities of group dynamics, and trying to differentiate between the road blocks and open paths in the process of healing, the wild nature of life shines through brightly. I have to remind myself that chaos is beautiful and that the “organization of experience” works itself out like a burdock plant bursting through pavement. The “process” will never be confined by the pavement, it must be allowed to break through, to grow, to form according to it’s own innate wisdom. It’s a humbling reminder to let nature take it’s course. Healing is a wild, messy process. But when it all comes down to it, I need to remember that what’s important is to support each other, and be real, confident that we will find our freedom and healing together in time.

New Blog Theme: Radical Health

Posted: October 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

This has been my personal blog for years, but I stopped using it almost a year ago. As of late most of my research and writing has been in the theme of body therapy and body politics. I am now a licensed massage therapist, and have latched on strongly to the ideas of Wilhelm Riech and Roberto Freire, and am exploring how I can apply their revolutionaries ideas into my massage practice. I am also the facilitator of the Gainesville Icarus Project, a radical mental health support group, and am learning a lot about therapy and people! So the new theme of this blog will be such… an exploration of merging mind and body, politics and therapy, society and self.