Power play in groups

Recently, I met with a group of people. There were five people present. This was supposed to be a democratic meeting, where all contributed to decision-making.

Are other psych survivors like me? Are you the first person in the room to recognize misuse of power?

I do not think anyone else noticed. I didn’t say anything. One person took over the meeting. To me, this was obvious.

There are many possible reasons why this happened. One reason is that this person might have thought that the rest of us were incapable and inadequate.

Every time I volunteered to take on a responsibility, she would say to me, “Don’t take on more than you can handle.” Huh? Who is she to assume I am so limited that I cannot do these things I have volunteered to do?

She did this over and over. After a while, I was truly disgusted. She literally pushed people into taking on the responsibilities she thought were right for them. Did anyone else recognize this?

I volunteered to take on a certain responsibility, but she repeatedly pushed me down and said we had to assign this to a person who was not present, and therefore, couldn’t agree or disagree to doing it. I, and the other members, pointed out that this person already has taken on a lot of other responsibilities.

Toward the end of the meeting, another member then turned to me and asked me if I’d like to do it, undermining this woman’s power plays.

Another thing: Why do people bash me badly for hurting their feelings when at the same time, they refuse to apologize for hurting mine? Do I see a double standard here?

Or is it ignorance?  Should I laugh over this?

Or maybe they just think they’re above me in some way, and my feelings do not matter.

How do you change a person’s superiority complex?

Interestingly, a member who had seemed rather quiet during the meeting emailed all of us afterward saying something about the environment, a coffee shop, bugged him.

I laughed, because what bugs one person does not bug another, clearly.

I doubt I will say anything, lest I come across as rude or insensitive.

13 thoughts on “Power play in groups”

  1. “Are other psych survivors like me? Are you the first person in the room to recognize misuse of power?”

    Oh yeah.

    1. I wonder if there’s a way to get a consensus on this. I could put up a poll. But that would only poll my readers and not the general survivor population, and we’d need controls, too, and add to that folks who survived the penal system, the school system, and other oppressive systems.

        1. Ha ha. Yes! A kernel of it. No science to diagnosing people. That is the main crime and it spreads across disciplines, too, including most therapists.

  2. So, if I understand you correctly, you may well believe (I’m not trying to put words in your mouth so correct me if you please) it is possible to reason scientifically on a construct such as to how people evolve through diagnostic categories over time, but you deny that the act of diagnosing is based (broadly speaking) in sound science, nor that the diagnosis category itself represents meaningful categories of mental distress.

    You my perhaps feel that I’m toying with you. I’m not. I’m really trying to get to know your point of view on the topic.

    But since your blog post is called “Power play in groups”, maybe you’d be interested in a construct such as the “Power Threat Meaning Framework”.


    Tell me what you think. (Only if you so please).

    1. And thank you for asking this question. A diagnosis will cause a person to become more like that diagnosis. Back in the day, this was the reason why many “professionals” did not reveal diagnosis even if they were sure of it. Now, of course, they’ll tell people their brains are defective or some such thing.

      Diagnosis can be done in as little as five minutes. Even if the criteria states that you have to meet with the professional for 60 or 90 minutes, they often have their minds made up within five minutes. The rest of the time, they’re just making good money.

      Once diagnosed, you are doomed. In USA, your diagnosis is going to stay on your record, sometimes forever. Rarely do these diagnoses get removed. It’s not like an accused felon can get themselves clear in court. This won’t happen. There are plenty of ways to prove you’re mentally ill. It’s so easy to fake those tests and even fake an interview. Most of those “professionals” will not be able to tell. Only the clever ones (very few are that smart), and of course, our fellow patients, will be able to tell you’re a complete fraud.

      Proving yourself sane, no matter how insane your diagnosis is (such as schiz was for me), is not even possible. You can’t even do this in court. Some people have managed this but usually, we’ll just be called mental illness deniers and be dismissed. I have heard of the possibility of going to a shrink and getting your diagnosis changed to something less incriminating. This may be a viable option for some people, but not all.

      So yes, we do evolve in these diagnostic criteria, but that’s only a response to being diagnosed or a response to drugs, such as pacing leading to a mania diagnosis. That happened to me!

    2. I have been checking out those links. Funny, I never saw that pdf document before. I don’t know why I was not able to access it. So far, it looks very good indeed and might be useful to make the helping profession more helpful. I am still seeing Helper and Helpee, which I am not too thrilled about. Let’s see how it evolves. I think the media will need to comply also. There is too much media bullshit out there about “Tell your doctor if…” and “If you are tired, feeling down, etc, don’t worry, it’s a disease called Depression and you don’t have to do a darned thing except follow your doctor’s orders forever.”

      1. Yes, it’s encouraging. Though we are really far from anything remotely sensible when it comes to coercion.

        I have a question. I have noticed that you claimed at one point that you faked your symptoms. I visioned/read the story. Could you tell me more about what the psychological motivations of the faking was? I’m really curious about that.

        1. Oh, that’s quite simple to answer. I was in the Mental System for an eating disorder, which I definitely had, that and nothing else. Back in the early 1980s they did not even recognize ED and they had no clue how to treat it, so they refused to listen to my complaints. My roommate suggested to me that I tell them I’m “anxious” and then, they’ll give me drugs, which at the time, I wanted. It was very hard, even then, to get them to care. She suggested I show up at the ER, saying if I go, they’ll be forced to give me pills. They did. The pills did nothing to help me.

          I ended up at a rehab that treated mostly schiz. They wanted to put me on disability, and to do so, they couldn’t say ED, since I was already an adult. I doubt they even listened when I told them about it, anyway. I never heard voices, never had any indicators for the diagnosis, which is bogus anyway. They switched it to bipolar around 1987. For the next couple of decades they never even knew I had ED. Any time I felt I needed protection (because the ED was out of control) all I had to do was put death in a sentence. I was forced to use this technique all that time. Until around 2008 when a therapist finally heard me. By now, I was stuck with schizo-affective, which never left my record.

        2. “Any time I felt I needed protection (because the ED was out of control) all I had to do was put death in a sentence.”

          Do you think it could relate to what psychiatrists call factitious disorders (although not the brutal things you see on the net, only a milder form of it). I’m concerned with this issue in a twisted way, so please do not take my question as an attack.

          The question I’m asking is whether or not you were seeking “care” in some sense, or more material benefits (pills, benefits). Maybe both at the same time.

        3. Yes, I was. I was under the impression that “care” was supposed to work. I figured if they were real doctors, they must know what they are doing, even though it was quite clear they were stumbling in the dark. I also had the false belief that ED was “mental” when in fact, it’s caused by a diet. Most people I know had no clue what the consequences would be of going on an extreme diet. Some have forgotten the reasons for the diet because it’s too far back to remember. But there was a diet, either voluntary, or involuntary via disease or poverty. A lot of kids get noticeably worse once they get involved in the ED community. “They” know this, too. So, the statement “ED is a mental illness” is completely false. They only started treating ED when they realized there was huge monetary potential there.

Feedback and comments welcome!