Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Trap: What Happened to Our Dreams of Freedom

I've just watched the first of a three-part documentary called The Trap: What Happened to Our Dreams of Freedom, by Adam Curtis. The programme attempted to analyse our ideas of freedom in a sociological sense, and how and why these evolved through the 20th century. I thought it was compelling viewing, and much of it resonated with my own thinking. I was particularly astounded by this:
"In one famous proof that madness was defined by a patrician establishment, an American follower of Laing, David Rosenhan, arranged for eight healthy researchers, himself included, to check themselves in to mental hospitals. They claimed they could hear a voice in their heads saying "thud". All were diagnosed as ill; it took Rosenhan two months to get himself discharged. One hospital chief, defending the profession, urged Rosenhan to send more impostors and promised to detect them. He agreed, and soon the hospital was boasting the discovery of 41 fake patients. Rosenhan hadn't sent any."

which apparently, according to Curtis, was what led to our current preoccupation with mental disorders from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. This wasn't mentioned in the programme, but it occurred to me that Laing and Rosenhan between them would have put a dent in the drug industry's profits which needed to be smoothed out.

I'm definitely looking forward to parts two and three of this series.


Blogger Allie said...

I meant to watch that and forgot.

I know people who have used/are using drugs to manage their mental health and that's up to them. I think they can sometimes save lives. But I also think that we are living through a period of diagnosis mania. People are often denied things like talk, and time, and feel such a pressure to 'cope'. We have to operate in such a narrow, rigid range of acceptable mental states and behaviours.

10:37 am, March 12, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

Quite through synopsis of the first two programmes here:

11:08 am, March 12, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Good point, Allie.

At one point the programme told us that around 50% of Americans were found to be suffering from at least one social disorder.

It occurred to me that about 50% of the people I knew at school were totally unable to cope with the school sytem and between them they presented the full range of disorder symptoms.

Thanks for that, Tech.

11:54 am, March 12, 2007  
Blogger Complexities said...

great docu

4:19 pm, March 12, 2007  
Anonymous Ruth A Jump said...

It struck me that if 50% of the people had a "disorder", how could they possibly say which half of the population was "normal"? Madness is relative - if we've all got it, it ceases to be madness, surely?

9:39 pm, March 12, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

You're onto something there, Ruth a Jump ;-)

10:25 pm, March 12, 2007  
Anonymous Fiona M said...

Hi, what channel/day/time is the programme going to be on again?

9:51 pm, March 18, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Last night, 9pm, BBC2 Fiona. And next week at the same time.

9:40 am, March 19, 2007  

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