Exceptional

(Loose continuation of themes touched on in A Credit To My People)

“Last one in shut the door” is a derisive slogan referring to residents of newly-developed areas who oppose further development, or new immigrants or transplants who oppose further influx.  More broadly, it refers to people who advocate rights and social acceptance for themselves, but oppose extending such to anyone further afield.  It is rampant in neurodiversity/anti-psych/autism-acceptance circles; it is incredibly damaging to the movement; and for those who have the option, endorsement of it can be extremely tempting.

I don’t need a cure, but low-functioning autistics do.

Involuntary commitment is excessive in your case, but it’s necessary for people truly a danger to themselves.

I can choose whether or not to take medication, but we can’t risk that with a schizophrenic.


These arguments are very appealing.  The positioning of oneself between two extreme viewpoints carries an implication of reasonable moderation.  A native informer speaking against full equality for his own group holds an enhanced standing to those outside the group.   Framing psychiatric abuse as a matter to be determined on a case-by-case basis avoids uncomfortable questions about root principles.  And the native informer gains the personal validation of his superiority to other neurodivergents—the status of being the last one allowed in before the doors permanently close.

Of course, the native informer is also taking a risk. He may be disbelieved. He has to actively prove himself better or more acceptance-worthy than the rest of his cohort, and successfully convince an authority or a larger society which may not have a particular desire to make fine distinctions among a generally despised class. Minority communities of all types use the threat of this outcome to keep native informers in line (with mixed success).

Still, self-advocates face outside pressure to adopt the “last one in” stance even when they have almost no hope of being believed.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I have a slight credibility problem. I’m generally disbelieved on matters of my thoughts, feelings, experiences, and best interests, which causes me no small degree of distress. If I were open to selling out, a promise of credibility would be a good incentive. But my awareness of just how low my credibility is (and just how precariously close it is to falling further) validates viscerally what I already know intellectually—“last one in” is a bad, self-defeating argument.

I was involved in a debate about whether women who were abused as children became psychologically damaged by the experience. I vehemently insisted that they did not, carefully explaining how degrading that premise really is. “There are always exceptions,” claimed my interlocutor, “just because it isn’t true for you doesn’t mean it isn’t true in general.”

“If I agreed with you, would anyone believe me?” I asked. I have many characteristics of alleged “psychological damage” (in addition to the obvious); what would really be the odds, if I accepted that a category “psychologically damaged people” legitimately existed, that I would be able to negotiate myself out of being included? I’m guessing… slim. If a category “psychologically damaged people” is accepted as legitimate, it will certainly include me. There are no signficant differences between me and other “damaged” people that I could latch onto as boundaries. My only hope for denying membership in the category is denying the meaningful existence of the category at all. No matter how earnestly I promise to close them behind me quick as I can, those doors will never open for me. Honorary membership will never be granted. If I want entrance, I have no real choice but to grab an axe.

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3 Responses to Exceptional

  1. stimmyabby says:

    Good points. I agree that the “Well most of us need x but I don’t need x” is not a good idea. Is there anything you could link me to that explains why it is degrading to say woman who were abused as children can be psychologically damaged by it, or could you explain? Though I probably wouldn’t phrase it as “psychological damage”, it makes sense to me that someone who had gone through a particularly bad experience could have long lasting negative emotions and I’ve heard of people developing PTSD and phobias. Thank you!

    • adkyriolexy says:

      The problem is with characterizing long-lasting negative emotions, PTSD, or phobias as “damage.” “Damaged” means “reduced in value.” In common usage, it also often implies “needing to be fixed.” People with long-lasting negative emotions, PTSD, or phobias aren’t reduced in value, and they don’t need to be fixed.

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