RE-PRESENT VS REPRESENT

In our not too distant past, there were separate restroom facilities for people of color. There were separate drinking fountains. There was separate housing. Many, perhaps even most, people of color were just grateful that they had restrooms, drinking fountains and housing, etc. If a person were to claim to represent people of color in those days, they would have to say that people of color were fine with the situation and were grateful to have restrooms, drinking fountains and housing, etc.

Also in our not too distant past, there were separate jobs and separate pay scales for women. In fact, many women were happy being housewives and homemakers and many, perhaps even most, women who had jobs were just grateful that they had a job at all. If a person were to claim to represent women in those days, they would have to say that women were fine with the situation and were grateful to have jobs, etc.

In our present, there are public mental health clients who live their lives differently than most of society. They take drugs which impede their minds and other bodily functions, they therefore often cannot work and they often live in sub-standard housing and are under the care of the public mental health system. Many, perhaps even most, people under the care of the public mental health system are not only quite content to live this way, they wish they could have more of this sort of treatment. If a person were to claim to represent these public mental health clients, they would have to say that the clients are mostly happy and wish to have more of the sorts of drugs and other treatments they are getting.

I would contend that in all of the above examples, the correct term would be that someone speaking on behalf of the groups mentioned is in fact, re-presenting instead of representing. The difference is crucial. Re-presenting is a mere act of mimicry. While parroting may be good in some instances, I feel that it is hardly appropriate when it comes to seeking civil rights. There are those today who claim to represent public mental health clients who in fact are re-presenting what they may have heard.

I believe it is time to stop repeating the brainwashed rhetoric of public mental clients and it is time to look at the overall situation and stand up and shout about how wrong it is to let it continue. I don't re-present public mental health clients, I will represent them to the best of my ability (as I always have). It is wrong to allow the continued brainwashing process which trains clients to accept their drugs without question and to even seek more potentially brain disabling drugs. It is wrong to not have true informed consent without any hint of coercion. It is wrong to use force and involuntary procedures without holding the system accountable for the assaults they commit against us. It is wrong to allow the barbaric practices of "shock" to continue to happen. It is wrong to call these things that they do to us and which robs us of our very soul, treatment. It is wrong to practice such mumbo-jumbo big-brotherish doublespeak.

Just as it was wrong to have separate restrooms, separate drinking fountains, separate housing, and other "separate but equal treatment," it is wrong to provide us with "separate but equal treatment" under parity legislation which pays for forced and involuntary procedures. Just as it was wrong to have separate jobs and separate pay scales, and other "separate but equal treatment," it is wrong to socially isolate us from the rest of society and turn us into zombies with powerful drugs which make us unable to work and then place us into substandard housing because that's all we can afford or all society feels we are worth.

It may be that many, perhaps even most, public mental health clients are content with their lot in life but for those of us who are able, we must ask ourselves if it is our role to re-present those folks or whether we will choose to represent for the betterment of all.

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