Trigger Warning: pathologization, abuse, eugenics, ableist terms as a quoting the terms of the time thing.
Today (the “as I write this” today, not the “when this gets published” today,) I am responding to a piece in Slingshot. Yes, Slingshot is an anarchist publication. No, I don't think I'm an anarchist. Even if I'm not an anarchist, I can still look at anarchist writing with my neurodiversity paradigm eyes and see what thoughts I think. That's what I'm still up to.
Today, it's “Tunneling Beneath the Psychic Landscape of the Street Protest Ritual,” by I Steve. This event called the RNC is coming up a decent bit, and I'm not sure what it is. I'm not sure I need to know what it is, either. I think “insert large protest event here” will work.
They notice the psychology of a bunch of other things are pretty well studied, mentioning business, war, and politics. I'd point out things like social psychology and educational psychology, too. But then the psychological factors are pretty much not studied in activism. Why?
Well, “we see an academic mental health ideology being applied from the top down upon vulnerable people whose experiences are minimalized.” (I'd probably have said minimized. It's shorter and means the same. I go for smaller, simpler words when I can, mostly. It got me in trouble at school sometimes.) But yes. That. That sounds like something the pathology paradigm would do. It sounds like something the pathology paradigm does. The pathology paradigm also gets used at intersections of groups those in power dislike and neurodivergence: in the days of slavery, wanting to run away was considered a mental illness. In the BarCode world, wanting to burn the (actually quite oppressive, with eugenics and all) bar code tattoos gets considered a mental illness. Beat poets (generally the female ones) got locked up in institutions as insane. “Mentally deficient”women were sterilized- women of color, almost always. (Not 100%- sometimes when neurodivergence is the ableist excuse for a horrible racist thing, it will hit a white neurdivergent person. We can't ignore those times because ableism is really real too, but we have to remember that this bit of system only exists at all because of racism.) There's not exactly a short history of activists/anti-authoritarian people being called mentally ill and locked up for it, if they can't be gotten on an actual crime. Anarchists are portrayed as psychopathic and “bent on mindless destruction.” (Those two things aren't the same, and definition of what makes a person a psychopath/sociopath doesn't actually imply evil anyways.) Heck, it gets referenced in 1984, too. Winston is in the Ministry of Love to be “cured” of his “insanity.” (Insanity is socially constructed, just like the alleged normal brain people get privilege from having their brainsset up enough like it.)
The alienation they realize they have from traditional systems, including those of mental health and fitness, makes anarchist community one that might do well with the neurodiversity paradigm. We're not opposed to medication if the person taking it thinks it helps them, or we shouldn't be, but forced medication, forced institutionalization, forced normalization? We don't like those. We think the ways brains are set up vary as part of human diversity, and that privilege and oppression dynamics happen along how close we are (or can act) to the alleged norm.
Even though I'm not actually an anarchist, I think I might use some of my thoughts from this article and some of my thoughts from the shorter piece by Zane Bolonga about anarchism and neurodiversity to write a piece and send it to them. I think the main point of that piece would be: “The neurodiversity movement is here, and even if we're not actually anarchists and you're not actually neurodiversity activists, we've got common interests we can work on. Some people will be in both, and you can help with that by keeping ableism out of your spaces.”