Monday, March 06, 2006

Discrediting personal accounts

Today Mom brought me to a presentation by Sue Campbell, author of Relational Memories(?). She was talking about the False Memory Syndrome Foundation and so forth from a feminist perspective, about the way personal accounts are discredited by attacking memory. Which got me thinking about wider ways of viewing this.
It's my impression that many people, when reading a personal account that challenges their stereotypes, react one of two ways to each stereotype challenge.
One way is to go "Oh, wow! I never knew that!" and incorporate that into their view. An example is how many curebies reacted to Temple Grandin describing picture thinking.
A second way is to reject it and try to discredit the personal account. In terms of recovered (or any kind) of memories of abuse, often they suggest the person has a false memory. But there are myriad of ways to discredit personal accounts. One way is to claim that the account isn't from who it's supposed to be from - eg facilitator influence. Another way is to say that the person is an exception and therefore their personal account is irrelevant to other people's lives - eg "you're so high functioning, we're not trying to cure high functioning people, we're trying to cure low functioning people" or "you were misdiagnosed". Another way is to agree that the events happened and are representative of many people's lives, but that the person misinterpreted them - eg "you're delusional, talking in a high-pitched parentese voice doesn't really mean we're infantilizing you". Sometimes they connect this with the person's diagnosis, such as saying a psychiatric survivor is "too crazy" to know what they're talking about. Sometimes they simply ignore or misinterpret the communication - eg a person who is throwing tantrums to protest how they're being treated is viewed as "regressing" or "displaying maladaptive behavior" (whether it's "adaptive" is irrelevant, what's relevant is why they're doing it). Sometimes they use several at once, even contradicting themselves - "you're too high functioning to represent real autistics, but you're mindblind and don't understand what's really going on in social interaction and your facilitator is the one who's really typing that."
So what makes the difference? It's how invested they are in their model of reality.
For example, the False Memory Syndrome Foundation is run by parents of people (mostly women, it seems) who recovered memories of childhood abuse. They don't want to be viewed as abusers, so they discredit the voices of their offspring.
A person may be invested in viewing low functioning autistics as "retarded" based on thinking that what they're doing is OK to do to "retarded" people, but if a seemingly "retarded" person turns out to be highly gifted they don't want to accept the obvious conclusion that other "retarded" people might also be smart.
A person may be making money off of therapy and not want to listen to people saying that therapy damaged them (or their child, look at CIBRA, which has been attacked by ABA therapists).
In terms of FC, two things that concern many people are a) the very fact such people can type so well, and b) what they say about their experience (especially sexual abuse accounts).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a mom with a profoundly disabled son, I find it disgusting that anyone without a profoundly disabled child can critize/judge what a parent does. YOU HAVE NO CLUE!

"At Risk In the Community . . . Mentally retarded adults who live in community settings have a 72 percent higher mortality risk than those living in state-run institutions, and children with severe developmental disabilities living at home or in small-group homes have a 25 percent higher mortality rate than those in institutions, according to two separate UC Riverside studies".

Personally I would prefer my son be in a place where there are lots of care providers, If God forbid someone should be mean, More than likely that person would get caught. Institutions are NOT dark and grimmy, They have Nurses, Doctors, OT, PT, Speech therapist, care providers, schooling, outings ect.. They have come along way since the DARK ages! New laws are very strict.

Parents dont just throw thier kids in institutions, There are support groups, parents take thier children home on weekends, holidays, ect. And its now proper to use the word "residential facilities".

I have no clue to what life must be like as an Aspie, So I wont pretend and judge you for your rude remarks against a mother with a profoundly handicapped child.

Abnormal is a great choice for your blog.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Ettina said...

I have no idea what your comment is in reply to. I reread this post and I can't see anywhere that I criticize parents of disabled kids. I also didn't mention institutions at all in my post.
As for your statement about why you'd want an institution with more staff, that assumes that the mean things staff do are done by a minority of the staff and readily recognized as wrong by the others, which, sadly, is only true for a few things. I recommend you read Philip Zimbardo's book The Lucifer Effect. It discusses the well-known Stanford Prison Experiment, where normal college students were randomly assigned as 'guards' or 'prisoners' in a mock prison, and asked to act out their roles over a period of two weeks. They had to stop it after six days because of abuses. A third of the guards became sadistic, a third just 'did their jobs' without much concern for the prisoners, and the last third were passively nice. The most abusive third were the 'natural leaders', and were generally approved of by most guards. Even the nicest third did nothing to stop them, not even complaining to others.
Lastly, remember that you have a right to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. Even if you are a parent.

4:10 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home