Author Topic: Scarily clueless about benefits  (Read 1289 times)

Sunny Clouds

  • Charter Member
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4065
Re: Scarily clueless about benefits
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2017, 02:24:07 PM »
The misuse and distortion of the word was and is horrendous.

However, I'd disagree with you as to whether the word (not as used by Aylward) has an acceptable use in the context of the welfare system, because if as a mental health welfare rights activist you want people with  mental illness/disorders to be treated fairly by the welfare system, you want a system that has an acceptance of a multifaceted concept of mental illness/disorder.

Perhaps the best that we might hope for is for leading psychiatrists and psychologists to come up with a new term for biopsychosocial for use in psychology & psychiatry, and then that can also be used in the context of welfare and we can all thankfully dump the word biopsychosocial in the dustbin.

In the meantime, it can be very difficult for mental health campainers to campaign for society and the welfare system to accept that our issues are multifaceted whilst saying no, we don't want our words distorted to be used against us.

And for all that we may disagree on some things, Lankou,  I think that you and I are at one in terms of fury over the way that the whole testing system has been distorted, not only as you describe, but in so many other ways.  You (and others here and elsewhere) post the word Unum elsethread and I feel I want to explode.  So many politicians have bought into all this. 

There are some words that come to mind from a song from the sixties - Eve of Destruction.  It's political about war etc., but that's not why I'm quoting it, it's summarising how I feel about how disabled people are being treated:-  "Yeah, my blood's so mad, feels like coagulatin',
I'm sittin' here, just contemplatin',  I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation..."

And most of the way we're divided is words.  If we try to fight back on that, we then get people going on about 'politically correct nonsense' to shut us up. 

I wish I were a strong leader and activist.  I wish I could lead with new words and new rallying calls and new calls for unity.

The analogy I use (and I'm not scrolling back to see if I've used it here) is a friend who was angry that her state pension was counted as a 'benefit' and who said 'I paid for my pension'.  I pointed out that she hadn't paid into a pension pot, she'd paid into a ponzi scheme, paying for the previous generation's pensions and trusting that this generation would pay for hers.  I pointed out that she'd retired at sixty, still fit for work, whilst if a man the same age had been unfit, he'd have had to  claim what was then incapacity benefit.  But he might actually have paid more national insurance contributions.   These days you can get a pension with 30 years contributions.  You could have left school at 16, have paid 30 years by 46, then get unfit for work and get a 'benefit' whilst someone else might have barely scraped 30 years in a whole lifetime and get a 'pension'.  I've said similar things to other pensioners.  But oh what a wonderful thing the politicians have done.  We're back to deserving and undeserving.

I spoke with someone yesterday who mentioned some people he'd seen arriving from Syria.  He said they weren't from a war zone, they'd got expensive clothes and jewellery.  I said that our image of a war zone is people coated in dust crawling out from bombed buildings, but you can be a refugee if you know the enemy's coming, and Syria was a prosperous country.  At that point, he agreed.  What people don't like to mention is that they actually had a good education and healthcare system under Assad.  You can like him or dislike him, but this isn't about him, it's about how we have mental concepts that  may be unrepresentative.  Could you imagine if locals and foreigners in the UK started a big multi-way war, and you fled for safety, and the people in the country you arrive in look at you, see that you've got good quality clothes and maybe an expensive watch or engagement ring and reject you, because you don't fit that universal image of a refugee as someone wounded, dirty etc.

It's the same with disability.  Big emphasis on do you look disabled.  Big emphasis on artificial divides.  So terribly, terribly easy if you equate disabled to defective, second class, not entitled, or if not that then scroungers, for others such as culturally deaf people to align themselves not with disabled groups but with other minority language groups.  What's the safer option?

I feel so horribly politically depressed right now.  I just keep reminding myself that this country got in a bad state before and pulled itself out of it.   Who knows what could be achieved?

And at least we've got the OtEs and the L'Ankous raising awareness, bringing the likes of me out of our previous condition/circumstance-segregated groups.

lankou

  • Charter Member
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2678
Re: Scarily clueless about benefits
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2017, 02:48:26 PM »
The misuse and distortion of the word was and is horrendous.

However, I'd disagree with you as to whether the word (not as used by Aylward) has an acceptable use in the context of the welfare system, because if as a mental health welfare rights activist you want people with  mental illness/disorders to be treated fairly by the welfare system, you want a system that has an acceptance of a multifaceted concept of mental illness/disorder.


My point is, the original biopsychosocial model of disability does have a place in the analysis, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.
It has NO place whatsoever in determining if someone is able to work or not.

Sunny Clouds

  • Charter Member
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4065
Re: Scarily clueless about benefits
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2017, 03:38:10 PM »
It does have a place if opposed to one dominant view of how mental illness arises, and seen in a wider context of how the welfare state as a whole treats people with mental illness/disorders.

Let me give an example.  Let's say you have depression.  If the view is that it's all in your genes and it's a chemical imbalance, it's only a step from there to say that whether you're fit for work is whether you take your pills.  However, there's plenty of evidence that some sorts of antidepressants can either make depression worse or can create new mental conditions.  An approach that is single-track doesn't allow for that, and indeed seems to be behind those dreadful Community Treatment Orders = 'take the pills (whether they're helping or harming) or we'll lock you up again'.

On the other hand, taking depression as our example again, there are those that would argue that it's mainly just a lack of coping skills or similar, and that therefore what's needed is some therapy, especially some off-the-peg IAPT where you sit in a room once a week for several weeks with someone determinedly telling you that your thinking is all wrong.  (Having seen modern CBT as used in IAPT from both sides of the fence, i.e. having practised it and having received it, I'm afraid I concluded that that's what it all too often boils down to.)  Boy does that make the Aylwards of this world happy.

So the point of the relevance of biopschosocial to mental illness in welfare contexts is that if you take away the narrow definitions, you reduce the ability of the state to oversimplify the problem and deny you the support you need.

I say that in the context of a welfare state that doesn't exist in isolation from forced medical treatment.  If you're deaf, no one will lock you up in a hospital and say you have to use hearing aids even if they're unsuitable and make your problem worse, and say they'll only let you out of  hospital if you agree to wear them every day. 

Currently, the situation is that you can have your liberty taken away if you're not prepared to buy into your psychiatrist's preferred model of mental illness, but the last three governments have mentioned at various times in various ways the idea of making the acceptance/use of treatment a condition of claiming benefits. 

I know I'm expressing this clumsily but what I'm trying to say is that as a mental health activist, as far as I'm concerned, an acceptance that mental illness/disorders are multi-faceted is relevant to all aspects of the welfare state and particularly relevant when it comes to compulsion. 

Imagine we have a situation in, say 3 years' time when you're told that if you want to claim benefits, you've got to accept treatment.  Let's say that the mainstream thinking the welfare state then pushes is that if you can't walk but that there's risky surgery that could enable  you to walk, you must have the surgery or have no benefits, but you want to say hang on, my legs are just part of me and this condition that stops me walking isn't just about joining up those two nerves, and while we're about it, what I want is money for a wheelchair not the risk of ending up bedridden or dead from surgery.  Ok, that's not the perfect illustration, but I think it gets the general picture across.

For those of us with SMI, there isn't a neat divide between benefits and psychiatry.  You can find yourself on the wrong end of a CTO and claiming benefits to live off.  Both aspects of those running your life, telling you what is or isn't 'wrong' with you, whether you can have shelter and food, and if so, where, mesh together.

Let me turn this around.  There's been a long and hard-fought battle to get the social model of disability accepted.  Let us say that you are assessed for benefits and they say oh, look, you can use a wheelchair so you can do pretty much any job that someone that can walk can do, and you try to say no, it's not that simple, all around me are barriers.  If you said to me that you thought that the social model of disability should be accepted by the welfare state, whilst not denying individual people's right to see their own impairments/disabilities/obstacles/problems etc. in terms of the medical model, I'd agree with you.  Well, for me, as a mental activist, the biopsychosocial model of mental illness/distress is our 'social model' in terms of how we get help.  It's the one that says 'don't just look at my genes and what I have done and will do, look at the impact of what's happened, is happening, and will happen to me'.

You can't detach the analysis, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness from determining whether someone is fit for work in a society where whether they need to claim benefits if they're not partly depends on whether someone has locked them up, and where mainstream political thinking is increasingly in favour of imposing the sort of conditions on benefits claimants that they impose on mental patients.  I came so very close to saying 'victims of psychiatry' there, but this isn't an antipsychiatry rant, it's about the creep of dominant ideas from one area of the welfare state to another.

Anyway, I guess that either we're not going to agree on this at all, or if we do, it will be with a lot of caveats.

We'll have to settle for both growling when we read the word 'Unum' and avoid winding each other up too much on biopsychosocial.  But don't expect me to stop campaigning for an acceptance by all parts of the welfare state that mental illness/disorder doesn't all fit into one model and that the biopsychosocial model of mental illness/disorder should be the dominant one in relation to public services and welfare.  In return, I'll accept that you'll carry on objecting to the use of the biopsychosocial context in relation to assessment of fitness to work.  Let's just hope we don't find ourselves lobbying the same MP about it or on rival demonstrations outside parliament!

 >chocolate<

lankou

  • Charter Member
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2678
Re: Scarily clueless about benefits
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2017, 03:49:40 PM »
, I'll accept that you'll carry on objecting to the use of the biopsychosocial context in relation to assessment of fitness to work. 

My problem is a bastardised version of it is being used in the WCA and now PIP.

I have probably been campaigning against the use of the Mansel Aylward/Unum version for assessing fitness for work, since before it was introduced in to the UK welfare system by Peter Lilley.
I have communications between myself and Peter Lilley somewhere dating before the introduction of Incapacity Benefit.
I seemed to be a lone protestor at the time, because it took several years more before disability organisations realised Lilley had sold them a crock of poo.
I have the original consultations documents somewhere sent to me about Incapacity Benefit before it was introduced, and it still amazes me how so many people were fooled into thinking it would make things better for sick and disabled people.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2017, 06:46:04 PM by lankou »

KizzyKazaer

  • Global Moderator
  • Super Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7985
Re: Scarily clueless about benefits
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2017, 05:30:33 PM »
The government's ultimate objective is always to have less disabled people receiving benefits, whatever fluff they try and wrap it up in.

Sunny Clouds

  • Charter Member
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4065
Re: Scarily clueless about benefits
« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2017, 05:46:57 PM »
Kizzy - what a perfect and succinct summary.