Black Monday

Noon hour. November is packed with memories for me. Sobriety is hard to keep up, but I think about what my financial situation would be like if I drank daily. A 12 pack of good beer goes for about $15 or more. I don’t think my liver can metabolize alcohol anymore. It’s the worst thing for my health. Addiction is a steamroller, and it doesn’t care whom it crushes. This afternoon I might go buy my usual Snapples… Suzanne had to delay writing to me this morning. People are preparing for the holiday, everyone except me. But my book of Sophocles is coming tomorrow.

Quarter of two. I’m at physical therapy right now. My mind is a blank…

Quarter of four. The idea of sociology returns to tease my brain again. Maybe it’s a higher function of human minds to obey the unwritten rules, to conform and cooperate with the group. On the other hand, there are always square pegs and misfits, and these people help to make life a diverse experience. The unity of a given culture is one thing, but diversity from individual to individual is also inevitable. Rousseau: “Man is born free, and he is everywhere in chains.” The social contract is not something that comes naturally to us. And yet I put on a face mask in public like everybody else. I suppose the most antisocial behavior is substance abuse, when you isolate yourself and get high. You disconnect with culture and create your own reality, totally out of touch with people. Maybe people constitute the common denominator, the bottom line. Thus sociology has a point. But I think I’ll re-examine Rousseau’s political philosophy, though I know he concludes with the necessity of the general will. We sacrifice our native freedoms in order to have a civilization. We go at the green signal and stop on the red. Or perhaps we do something different when no one else is around? 

Loonies on the Path

My suspicion is confirmed: there is a sociological component to schizophrenia. To be ill with it is to lose touch not only with reality but also with society. For convenience, let’s assume that there’s a collective soul of sorts, which we may call “God.” A person with schizophrenia has lost contact with this reality. Another way of saying this is that schizophrenia is nonconformity or even rebellion towards the trends that others take for granted. There really is a right way and a wrong way of doing things, in accordance with one’s social context. Or anyhow, this is my impression today. The factual accuracy of this observation remains to be substantiated… UPS just dropped off a package at my door, upsetting the dog and interrupting my whole train of thought. I was saying that schizophrenia is a sociological condition as well as psychiatric but I cannot verify this claim. I am only one person with the illness and can’t speak for everyone. And how much sense does it make to say a person is “sociologically ill?” Let alone how to help the person. Radical nonconformity is unhealthy for both the individual and his culture… but again I am ignorant about the field of sociology and its terminology. It would be necessary for me to go back to college and study the science formally. Still, most people will understand when I quote Pink Floyd: “Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs / Got to keep the loonies on the path.”

Bureaucracy

Nine o’clock 🕘. Aesop has been panting and wheezing in the heat, so we got up again. Tomorrow I will buy some ice 🧊 in the bags they have at the market, or buy a couple of trays for making my own ice in the freezer. It only occurs to me today that I have none… I am quite thrilled with the Ayn Rand books I received this morning, but why did I get three copies of the same title? I wanted to solidify the story for myself, making it more real. But this behavior is compulsive, as Bonnie understood when I described it to her. She wanted to diagnose me with OCD on top of schizophrenia, but I left her care and things were rather unresolved. To be honest, her own behavior had become very strange and forced for some reason. She was under pressure from her supervisor not to just visit with me anymore, but instead carry out a structured program. It was a lot of bureaucratic red tape. Looking back, I feel bad for Bonnie now. The organization she worked for was very weird. It treated Iris badly as well, and who knows who the people were in charge. Anyway, Bonnie’s assessment was probably on the right track if she’d been allowed to be human in her job. Bureaucracy is a crappy thing when it distorts people out of human shape, constraining them against their will and their beliefs. Maybe someday P—Health will get it together, but it will require a lawsuit against them first. They really need to treat their employees better so they can care for their clients better. My impression of the organization was always right, and now I’ve put my finger on the problem a bit more. Everyone who worked there was a robot 🤖 except for Iris, and they moved her to a different department, a sort of demotion from being a private psychiatrist. It was just awful. Now I’m a total dissident of P—Health. They control two of the hospitals in the area, but I hope I can be admitted to the third one the next time I need help. I fired my PCP with this bureau and last December started seeing a new one somewhere unrelated. I hold out hope that the more independent organizations can thrive and maintain a semblance of humanity in doing their work.

Questions

Quarter of four. I feel really good today since my adventure to Bi Mart. I scanned more of the sociology book and found I could relate to the phenomenon called xenocentrism. This is when you try to compensate for ethnocentrism by favoring a foreign culture to your own. It’s also becoming clear that Christianity is a thing of American culture, a culture with which I’ve lost touch. People believe in religion just because it is done as a matter of expectation. It is one of those unwritten rules that people conform with. I wonder what schizophrenia looks like from a sociological perspective? Is it a failure to conform to your culture, to be out of sync with your society’s values, beliefs, and practices? My old psychiatrist used to view me from a sociological standpoint sometimes. Once he even compared me to the Unabomber; it must have been in 1995 or 96. When I later reminded him, he denied remembering ever saying such a thing. So now I ask myself just what is schizophrenia to a sociologist. A loss of contact with reality, in more ways than one? Maybe schizophrenia ought to be an interdisciplinary study? Looking at it in the light of culture adds a dimension to the illness. It also informs me of the way my family sees my behavior, they being relatively normal. And what does sociology reply to the idea that there’s no such thing as normal? It talks about shared beliefs and practices and mores: basically, norms. But if normal doesn’t exist, where does that leave sociology— and society and, more personally, my family? Because after all, my family is probably what I’m concerned with.

Amateur Sociology

Eleven forty. When the mood strikes, I will gaze through my sociology book out of curiosity. I wonder what prompted me to look into this science? There must be a personal reason. People talk about culture and society often, but they aren’t scientific in doing this. It interests me to think how pressures around me influenced the person I became. It is like a Pink Floyd song, but the band complained about society rather than taking a more objective view of it. To me, it’s intriguing to ask how culture and society function. And maybe it’s a matter of individuals actively constructing the world we live in. Constructivism makes more sense than the idea of society existing as a separate monster, imo. “But its protectors and friends have been sleeping / Now it’s a monster and will not obey.” So much of rock music is sociological, though maybe not in a methodical way… What happens when a playwright like Arthur Miller writes The Crucible or Death of a Salesman? Is he a symptom of his society, or rather does he shape and change society by the power of his language? Consider A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen. Same situation. The first performance of the play caused the audience to riot. Nora Helmer wasn’t supposed to leave her husband at the end, but she did it anyway, to the outrage of those watching the drama. Percy Shelley stated that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. And yet poets are just individuals. Which is the shaper of which? Does it make sense to conceive of society as a whole unit, or as JS Mill said, is it only the sum of the individuals that compose it?

More to Learn

Ten o’clock. After Damien was here to mow and remove the dead blackberries, the wind picked up and it grew cloudy. Aesop and I turned in for a nap near seven o’clock, and I had some funny dreams about church and my parents. A third dream was about being assigned a long division problem, 3 figures into 6 figures, and the quotient began with 222. I asked my school valedictorian to solve it, and he wrote it on an overhead projector and used a calculator. All three dreams dealt with reading and arithmetic, of the Bible and writing checks respectively. Overall I was dreaming about what we call the “real world,” the kind of stuff I learned in junior high school. I wasn’t particularly smart throughout the series, but people liked me… What was the point of this dream sequence? No idea.

When I first opened the sociology textbook and saw the terms “culture” and “society,” I recognized a concern that runs through a lot of my own writing. And yet this science is so broad and so vague that it seems meaningless. Contained within it are things like history and political science, anthropology and psychology, etc etc; why do we even need such a bloated discipline? Just another perspective on the same world, I guess. More macroscopic than other fields. Too extroverted for me, in the end. Now that I think on it, however: wouldn’t it be strange if groups, societies of people behaved according to independent scientific laws? As if the group were an entity in itself and not merely composed of individuals. This would be a novel concept for me, and maybe worth pursuing, simply because it is so foreign to my mind. My curiosity is getting bigger than my ego, reminding me to never stop learning.