How I got away with stolen cookies and created an alternate reality: a clue to the strategy used by big pharma and the APA
by: Mike Bundrant
In the early days of my training as a psychotherapist, I chose an odd mentor, an old man with white hair and steely blue eyes who fit the classic description of a sage. Every month a small group of us would venture out to his hide away in some obscure village in northern New Mexico and sit at his feet, reveling in the mysteries of the psychotherapeutic process. His name was Zink, and sometimes he gave us very strange assignments.
Once he said, "I want to you steal some cookies from the grocery store. But don't just sneak in there and put a box under your coat. Do it in a way in which you create a distorted reality and walk out of that store with the manager's permission to take the cookies."
"Um. What is this, a school for small-time shoplifters?" I protested. "I am in training to become a counselor, not a thief. Besides, I don't steal. It's a little rule of mine."
"You deal with the moral aspects of the assignment however you want," said Zink.
"I don't think the counseling board would approve of this kind of training," I retorted.
"If you were so concerned about the state's involvement in your education, you wouldn't have chosen me as your supervisor," he replied. With that, Zink dismissed himself with a glimmer is his eye.
Ok, how to create a distorted reality, steal cookies, walk away with the blessing of the store manager and keep my morals intact? It did seem like a challenge. I began to plot.
I took a stroll through the neighborhood market, casing the joint like a cheap crook, waiting for inspiration. Nothing. I left. Forget this! I could see myself trying to explain my way out of a shoplifting charge, embarrassed as can be and now with a criminal record, no longer licensable as a psychotherapist! I left the store empty handed and firm in my resolve to return to Zink and fire him.
Then, it came to me. I knew how to do it! I waltzed into the market during the busiest part of the day and put a few things in my cart, making sure to include some refrigerated items, but no cookies. Then, I proceeded to the register and paid. I accepted my receipt from the cashier and walked off, leaving the bag of groceries at the check out. On the way out, I tossed the receipt into the trash. Several hours later I returned to the store and asked for the manager.
I reasoned with him, saying "I bought a small bag of groceries here a few hours ago and walked off without it. I don't have the receipt, though. Can you help? It was only $20 or so. I could just buy everything again, but..."
"Oh, no problem, sir. I do remember a bag being left behind, but we already returned the items to the shelves. Why don't you just go get what you had and then come see me."
"Wow. Thanks so much!" I was grateful. I dutifully browsed the store, collecting all of my purchased items, plus a small bag of mint cookies. Next, the moment of truth!
"Here you go, and thanks again." I opened the bag for the manager to inspect. He perused the items and looked me in the eye. I responded with a firm nod. I really appreciate your help sir!
At that, I had secured his blessing and walked out the door, a blatant thief shrouded in an aura of decency. The cookies tasted strangely delicious, I must admit. Not long after, I returned to the market and faced the manager.
"A while ago I stole some cookies from your store and now I would like to make amends," I offered. At that, I put down $10 on the counter and said, "This should cover it, with interest."Distorted realities
Call it youth, or the influence of the culture in Santa Fe, but a small group of us were pushing some limits - without the use of any drugs - trying to discover what constitutes reality and why people do what they do. At one point a colleague of mine and I encouraged an unsuspecting client to drink a bunch of soda and then prevented him from leaving the room when he had to urinate, testing his limits. Would he force his way out of the room or just pee on himself? What lesson would he learn from this regardless of his choice?
We called ourselves the Mental Health Underground, committed to pushing the boundaries of human potential and tolerance, beyond the standard guidelines of conventional mental health education, which we considered nearly worthless. It is one thing, by the way, to think about this stuff and go, "Yeah, I get it." It's another thing to experiment in the real world.
Most of what I learned from the Mental Health Underground has come to me slowly but surely over the years as I have matured. The most poignant lesson of all is that reality, and the sanity that comes from knowing it, is a mutually created thing. We create and share it together. If someone doesn't see reality the way most people do, he is considered crazy, out of touch. Schizophrenics fall into this category. Most people are not hearing voices come out of the walls. When someone does, he gets drugged up until the voices are smothered in a warm, chemical blanket.Who created the reality you share?
When a person creates a bizarre reality and expects you to share it with them, you may not react well. The contrast between the bizarre reality and the one most people agree upon is too great. What happens, however, when the bizarre reality seems plausible from within the agreed upon one? The bizarre version has great potential to be adopted and shared, especially if the proponent of that reality has power or credibility.
In my case, the store manager accepted the scenario I presented, a bag full of items that I purchased. He had evidence of my credibility, as he knew of the bag I had left behind earlier in the evening. I altered that reality only slightly by including the mint cookies and it still met the manager's approval. The manager failed to understand the layers of deception, however. He didn't know that his memory of the forgotten grocery bag was part of my treacherous plot all along. What gave my story credibility was the false scenario that I created from the beginning.What does this have to do with big pharma and the APA?
Everything. These organizations have fabricated a version of reality that mental health patients and helping professionals alike are required to accept. That reality has less to do what patients actually need or what is really going on in their lives and more to do with how to efficiently get their money while minimizing liability.
The backbone of this distorted reality is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
(DSM) - a clinical handbook used to diagnose patients with mental disorders that are codified and numbered, then used for insurance billing purposes. Patients are educated as to which disorder they have, a label they are not allowed to accept (and carry in their medical records) if they want treatment, which properly consists of a combination of talk therapy and drugs. The drugs are a required recommendation by the way. Counselors can ultimately be sued if they do not recommend them, although patients may refuse.
Counselors, engulfed in this fabricated system, typically and unthinkingly play along. In fact, they usually buy into the system so thoroughly that they consider those of us who don't diagnose according to the DSM as not credible and unprofessional. There you have it. If you don't share the reality created by the American Psychiatric Association in cooperation with insurance companies and big pharma, you don't get treatment as a patient and you don't practice as a counselor.
And the entire system is made up. They pull it off, year in and year out, because the DSM diagnostic guide seems reasonable, and not far from the reality that many people experience, just like my bag of groceries wasn't far from the store manager's perception of reality.
When you drill down just a little, though, the aura of professionalism in the mental health system evaporates. The disorders in the DSM, to any thinking practitioner, are rarely useful in terms of helping people solve real life problems. The therapeutic process, centered around a diagnosis that was intended to codify, not problem solve, usually consists of an evaluation, referral for medication and talk therapy. The talk therapy often focuses on how the patient is managing, given the expected effects and side effects of the medication.
This cycle is nearly useless at best and gravely harmful at worst. In some cases, it robs people of valuable years of their lives. The story of Linda Santini is a perfect example, detailed as the saga of a family in her book The Secrets to Recovery from Mental Illness: A Mother's Guide. Luckily, Linda found her way out of the system's distorted reality by way of orthomolecular medicine (http://healthytimesarticles.com/orthomolecular-medicine/
). Her story is an inspiration to anyone who has been trapped in the vicious cycle of DSM diagnoses that lead to prescription medication and weekly talk therapy. Parents of children diagnosed with ADD or ADHD should definitely read this book.Share a reality that heals, not one that steals
The hidden blessing of my involvement with the Mental Health Underground is that it gave me a chance to share an incredibly useful experience with a few like-minded people that didn't buy into the system. Although I admit some of our experiments were foolish, they pale in comparison to the vast experiments being perpetrated on humankind by those in power who will never feel bad enough to make amends for their stolen cookies. They play for keeps and it is your mind at stake.
Rather than buy into the mental health trip laid out in the DSM, opt for learning how your mind and emotions actually function. Learn to master your own state of being. Discover how to communicate well and how to manage conflict. Learn useful tools, not useless diagnoses! This is the path to health and healing.About the author:
Mike Bundrant is the founder of the iNLP Center, which offers online NLP training (http://inlpcenter.com/
) to help you multiply your effectiveness in every area of life. To receive a free personal development mini-course, visit iNLP Center http://inlpcenter.com/free-nlp-course
For more health news (http://healthytimesarticles.com/
) visit the Healthy Times Articles site.