Friday, November 29, 2013

Labels, Fables and Other-ableds..; It Is Time to Turn the Tables...

"The most common method of 'labeling' people derives from a general way of perceiving members of a certain nationality, religion, ethnicity, gender, with a certain disability...or some other group. 

When a majority of people hold a certain point of view towards a certain group, that point of view becomes a stereotype. This stereotype affects the way other people perceive the groups in question and the result is a 'label' that is metaphorically imposed on the members of the group in question. 

A member of a targeted group is thus 'labeled' by the larger society, and along with it, the nuances underlying the label, be it positive or negative, that aids in the formation of social stereotypes." (thank you Wikipedia)

Of course, we humans use labels in other ways, than that mentioned above. Certainly without "labels" concepts and constructs it would be very difficult to navigate the "real world," but there comes a point at which the thing labeled ceases to be living and dynamic, rather it becomes stale, stagnant, and black & white.

Take me for example, I'm a 51 year old man who has been labeled for as long as I can remember.  I've noticed that once someone successfully attaches a label to me, that "I" cease to exist in their eyes.  From that point forward they associate me with the label.  But, I am not a label.  Prior to the diagnoses of my ACC and re-discovery and re-diagnoses of ASD, I had literally been given dozens of inaccurate labels by physicians and clinicians.

I was called ADHD, Borderline, Schizoaffective, depressed, dementia by doctors.  My own father goes so far as to call me a "psychopathic liar", "manipulator", and even more horrible things I won't repeat here.

Having said that; I admit that both ACC (incontrovertible, since it is a physical brain malformation) and ASD, both fit me to the T.  The thing is, all of those years of wrong diagnoses, pumping me with drugs that always far worsened my cognitive, emotional, memory and social skills, could have been avoided.  It could have been avoided in a world where clinicians are more focused on individual clients/patients and how they personally "show up in the world," rather than trying to pigeonhole me into an arbitrary insurance category in the DSM.

I've heard the comment from some that, "taking on a label will only weaken your abilities and functionality in the world."  While this may be true on some level, it most definitely is not the case for me.   Since I have been properly diagnosed with ACC and now ASD, I can exhale.  I have been waiting to let go, relax, to exhale all of my life.   I have been trying to live the life and labels that many in the world think and expect that I am supposed to do, to "fit in and be normal."

I have caused myself long-lasting and excruciating suffering by always holding myself up to the standards of other people.  It is I, however, that must take responsibility of this (primarily.)

Yet (secondarily) the "hammer down the crooked nail" mentality which goes hand in hand with the Protestant Work "Ethic" is forced down the throats of those of us in the Western hemisphere.

There are situations, however, where "labeling" can open doors and create possibilities, can heal, can thrive.

You might argue that labeling is a kind of limitation.  I am prone to agree with you.  Having said that I would have to say boundaries and limitations are what make life possible, they only hold us back if we identify or define ourselves as or by the limitation.

In the eastern religions, boundary and limitation is the source of Life, or to be more precise, allows Life to flourish ( be born, mature, grow old, then die.) Shiva (or Consciousness) is the source (origin) of all, but is inert, inactive, immature and impotent without Shakti (or Matter/Mother/Existence.)  Life is only pure potential without limitation, (She is called "the Great Limitation" in India) which gives it its form and Existence.

In the same way all humans are filled with an infinite potential, tailored specifically through biology, psychology, etc...

To be clear though, my infinite potential is not yours, nor does yours look anything remotely like mine.

My ACC and ASD diagnoses do not hold me back, they free me.  I am a fish, and family, "friends", the world and society tell me if I can't climb there tree I'm stupid, useless, a burden.  No, my diagnoses reminds me that "I am a fish", that there are others just like me, I am unique, unusual, one of a kind.  I have an  eidetic and encyclopedic memory for  all kind of extraneous information; but cannot tell you what I ate for breakfast this morning, or if I brushed my teeth, without help and prompting.  I can sit down at a keyboard and type my thoughts without end, a few of them quite profound, but cannot explain it to you face to face.  I've had a lifelong ability to create Rapport between an other an I, but have no idea wth to do with it, once I have it...

Your asking, "how is this a good thing?"  Well,  knowing, acknowledging, and accepting what I am not, frees up my infinite potential to be the unique and talented person that I am.

It is obvious to the (scientific) eye that each one's potential is unique and genius, yet society itself sets up rules and limitations, customs, and expectations.  It seems a human thing, (although I do not claim knowledge of sociology) throughout all cultures and social groups.

This is the "hammer down the crooked nail" analogy, all over again.  It seems to me, in our democracy, our Republic that we say we honour individuality, and that we honour creativity, productivity, etc...but in reality we are still largely bound up in selfishness and hold our individuality, group, clan, religion, ethnicity, sexuality or politic to be superior over our neighbor's.  What is the old saying? "Walk a mile in another man's moccasins."

So, here it is...

I'm turning the tables..;

I find it humorous that this learning and developmentally disabled guy, who has slogged through the first have of his life, languishing, crushed under the weight of my "disability" is the same one who is out here today educating parents, and other adults and children about ACC and ASD.  If I am out and about and you treat me with disrespect and bias I am gunna call your ass on it. 

My mission in life (one of them) is to promote the diversity of individuals both unique & neuro-typical.   Each and every person should be allowed to develop to their full potential.  Yet no one comes into the world with a blank slate, we are each, once in a lifetime occurrences.  What would an orchestra be, without the triangle, the tuba, the violin or the piccolo?  It would not be complete, that much is certain.  It is an individuals goal, right and privileged to discover what part they play in the grande orchestra that is human life.
It is to the betterment of all humanity.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment