Saturday, November 30, 2013


The church I grew up in grew out of what was called the Second Great Awakening.  The two most prominent men of what is now known as the Restoration movement were Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone.  They both wanted unity in the church, but as was recently pointed out by Michael Hines in The Restoration Herald they disagreed on how to accomplish the task.  Campbell thought unity could only be based on agreement on what the Bible said.  Stone was more interested in casting "abroad the sweep-net of the gospel, which gathers fishes of every kind."  Campbell remained to his death an advocate of restoring the primitive practices of the New Testament church.

Here we are faced with an example of one of the biggest questions a person must decide.  Does one compromise for the sake of unity or for that matter any reason?  In our country today everyone seems to be calling for the people in Washington, DC to compromise and get something done.  I know you have been told that compromise is good and a reality of life.

Recently, I was asked to attend a meeting at a provider's location to discuss with an ACT Team what the person being served was doing that was dividing their family from the team.  I said I would not attend a meeting that started out with the premise that the problem was the person.  Should I have compromised? 

This business about compromise is complicated.  I agree more with Stone than Campbell about the church issue.  I don't think we can turn the clock back two thousand years and have a church that is exactly like the church described in the New Testament.

However, I could not bring myself to compromise on the idea that the meeting should be about looking at the ACT Team, the support people including me and the person.  I could not agree it was even close to being person-centered to hold a meeting with an agenda of only discussing what was wrong with the person being served.

I have written before that I don't think that Assertive Community Treatment Teams by their very design have much chance of being person-centered, and this deal did nothing to change my mind.

  • "It is the client who knows what hurts, what directions to go, what problems are crucial, what experiences have been deeply buried." --From On Becoming a Person, 1961
How did Carl Rogers know this in 1961 and only the minority in the mental health arena know it in December 2013? 

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Today is my 65th birthday.  That is not so remarkable in today's world because many people live that long.  However, it is a surprise to me.  I have lived far longer than I ever expected to live.  I have wanted out of this world for as long as I can remember.

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and a survivor of the mental health system.  I have spent over 50 years in the system and the abuse started about 60 years ago.  I made it to my 65th birthday for reasons that at times are not clear to me.

I consider suicide to be the most selfish act a person can do.  One of the reasons I am still here is that there are people on this earth who I don't want to leave or hurt by killing myself.  Those relationships are better at times than others and when all of them go south at once I am in real trouble.  They can all go south at once when I get manic or otherwise out of sync with society.  During those times it is hard to find a reason to stay around.

I try to always keep something to look forward to.  Something planned for the next morning and something else for not too far in the future.  I try to think about my plans and the people I love and who love me.  It seems to work well enough to stay alive.

It does not make a whole person or a real life.  I am still shattered into different people.  The mental health folks call it Dissociative Identity Disorder, but they can't help other than naming it and putting it in their big book called DSM-5.  The truth is I will never be whole again.  They have names for my other pain like Bipolar Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but like the other they have names for pain rather than a way to gain a real life.

I never finished college.  I lost my business to bankruptcy. My father saw me as a failure and told me so.  Today I am a winner.

Today I beat the odds.  I lived longer than most people do who have DID, Bipolar, PTS disorders diagnoses and have spent months locked away in mental hospitals and on the streets.  I have fought and I won.  The other thing you may not know about me is that through the years that I fought to live I also fought for other people and their rights to be treated as fully human in a mental health system that should have both health and system removed from its name. 

Today, on my 65th birthday, I celebrate my victory, but I also celebrate the victory of many of my fellow sojourners and morn the loss of those that did not make it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

UNGRATEFUL CHILD a new poem by Patty Cooper

Ungrateful child was what she called my sister
Always unwanted
Knowing it, but unable to rectify

Ungrateful child a problem
Much reminded
Unwanted by the world she felt
Acted on it

Always too much
Never enough
Unable to be reassured
She believed the lies

Prove being bad
Became habit
Then life

Ungrateful child
Needed love
Needed nurture
Needed more

She wasn’t an ungrateful child
Perfect baby
Precious toddler
Precocious teen

Beautiful young woman

Drug addict

Mother not child was ungrateful

Caused it
Not seeing
Beautiful daughter
Never had a chance

Unfit mother
Needed to have a license
To procure such a treasure
Damn shame

©by Patty Cooper, October 18., 2013, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


There are no stairs only stares
     and the community they promised
         must be somewhere else
because I am here alone and unknown.

They should have left me alone
     in there I was not alone
          and they prepared my food
which I ate among silent souls.

Community is a concept seldom found.
     More often I find myself alone
          in a crowd I am told are my peers
but they don’t peer at me.

So here I stand with no stairs only stares.

© by ed cooper, November 13, 2013, Stoney Creek, Tennessee