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Jessica Krueger's picture

Not popular

First off, I'd like to just like apologize for my little "Bi-Polar Freak Out" in the middle of class. My family just experienced my younger sister's first manic episode not too long ago, and we've been living with bi-polar relatives our entire lives. Listening to my sister inform me that she has a profound understanding of our family’s greater purpose because she spoke to my recently demised grandmother and because there are four people in our immeduiate family, which means there are three recipients, which totals seven the holy number, which is all so clear to her now, and that she is divine and will not die, and it’s okay because I understand her words for two hours skewed my perspective and is apparently a sufficiently fresh wound that it can still send me in to a blind, unproductive tizzy.

Which brings me to the thrust of what I'd like my short, potentially counter-productive, point to concern itself with: these "broken brains,' regardless of how they're defined or handled, do not exist in a vacuum. There are people who love them, people who may be more “able” or less “ill” than they are watching them flounder. Fixing these brains doesn’t require an appeal to the evolutionary greater good or society at large, but simply a recognition of a family unit around them that suffers on account of another’s disorder. True, a bi-polar patient feels incredibly lucid during his/her manias, as though s/he really sees and understands, but a quick glance at his/her credit card bill or the state of their interpersonal relationships or their body weight may indicate that the individual isn’t capable of understanding consequences at all. To preserve an individual in this disordered state because they “want” their disorder is incredibly selfish and disregards the other potential victims of the disorder. Preserving the well being of a loved one for the sake of the family may read as selfish, especially when the disease is merely a construct of society, but the pain and suffering of those around the person should not be ignored either.

No one would in their right mind would allow a drunk man to consent to a sex change operation, so how can we allow people whose minds, whose reasoning, whose perception are clearly dysfunctional decide that they shouldn’t be treated? How selfish is it to allow an individual to exist in a pathological state in the hopes that they may turn out to be a great artist, or writer or thinker for the benefit of society? And if, hypothetically, we set about reconstructing our culture such that treatment of bi-polar disorder and autism becomes obsolete in a manner analogous to that which we are presumably attempting with homosexuality, what of those already inculcated with the views and values of the before? Are their sadnesses and experiences really so inconsequential? In closing I realize that this viewpoint is not popular and probably reads as very myopic and unenlightened. But listening to my sister’s broken and frightened voice when she asks me if she’s crazy and the subsequent duress I experienced gave me a profound sympathy for the deeply Catholic father of a homosexual son, the mother whose autistic baby won’t smile at her and the brother of a bi-polar patient who has been called to identify the body.

(Is the suffering of one party necessarily less than that of other? How did we come to recognize the pain of the gay child over the parent and inversely the mother over the autistic baby?)

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