Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.

Timothy Leary was an American psychologist who became an iconic figure of the 1960s counterculture, coining possibly the most widely used catchphrase linked with that era: “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.”

However, the order in which Leary wished us to do these three things is slightly different. He felt that society was polluted by politics, and made up of sterile, generic communities that do not allow the depth of meaning needed by true individuals. The first thing he thought we should do is “Drop Out,” by which he meant that we should detach ourselves from artificial attachments and become self-reliant in thought and deed. Unfortunately, “Drop Out” has been misinterpreted as urging people to halt productivity, which was never his intention.

Next, Leary tells us to “Turn On,” or delve into our unconscious, and “find a sacrament which returns you to the temple of God, your own body.” This is a command to explore deeper layers of reality, as well as the many levels of experience and consciousness. Drugs were one way to do this, and Leary, a Harvard professor, began experimenting with the hallucinogenic drug LSD.

To “Tune In,” Leary asks us to return to society with a new vision, seeking fresh patterns of behavior that reflect our transformation, and to teach others our newfound ways.”

With God On Our Side – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan / 7:08

Musician: Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar, harmonica

Recording Studio: Columbia Recording Studios / Studio A, New York: August 6 and 7, 1963

The melody of “With God on Our Side” closely resembles that of “The Patriot Game,” a song written by Dominic Behan, a songwriter fighting alongside the IRA (Irish Republican Army). Its title explicitly refers to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Based on St. Paul’s teaching, the lyrics radically questioned American history and, beyond that, all wars of the last century. The message was clear: if you believed the history books, the nations that triumphed were those that supposedly had God on their side. “Oh the history books tell it / They tell it so well / The cavalries charged / The Indians fell / The cavalries charged / The Indians died / Oh the country was young / With God on its side,” Dylan sang.

Surely, Dylan condemned those who claimed divine intervention to justify their murderous missions—who were, at the same time, those who wrote history. Did the Yankees have God on their side when they defeated the Confederates? The songwriter recalled a few facts that obscured the official discourse. The lines “Though they murdered six million / In the ovens they fried / The Germans now too / Have God on their side” let us understand that Germany, twenty years after World War II, was now on the side of freedom, under the benevolent influence of the United States. Then in the second to last verse, Dylan forced the listener to take sides concerning “That Jesus Christ / Was betrayed by a kiss / But I can’t think for you / You’ll have to decide / Whether Judas Iscariot / Had God on his side.” Once again, the criticism stung: it was addressed not so much to religious congregations as to political leaders and opinion makers who carried out wars in the name of God.

Oh my name it ain’t nothin’

My age it means less

The country I come from

Is called the Midwest

I was taught and brought up there

The laws to abide

And that land that I live in

Has God on its side

Oh, the history books tell it

They tell it so well

The cavalries charged

The Indians fell

The cavalries charged

The Indians died

Oh, the country was young

With God on its side

The Spanish-American

War had its day

And the Civil War, too

Was soon laid away

And the names of the heroes

I was made to memorize

With guns in their hands

And God on their side

The First World War, boys

It came and it went

The reason for fighting

I never did get

But I learned to accept it

Accept it with pride

For you don’t count the dead

When God’s on your side

The Second World War

Came to an end

We forgave the Germans

And then we were friends

Though they murdered six million

In the ovens they fried

The Germans now, too

Have God on their side

I’ve learned to hate the Russians

All through my whole life

If another war comes

It’s them we must fight

To hate them and fear them

To run and to hide

And accept it all bravely

With God on my side

But now we got weapons

Of chemical dust

If fire them, we’re forced to

Then fire, them we must

One push of the button

And a shot the world wide

And you never ask questions

When God’s on your side

Through many a dark hour

I’ve been thinkin’ about this

That Jesus Christ was

Betrayed by a kiss

But I can’t think for you

You’ll have to decide

Whether Judas Iscariot

Had God on his side.

So now as I’m leavin’

I’m weary as Hell

The confusion I’m feelin’

Ain’t no tongue can tell

The words fill my head

And fall to the floor

That if God’s on our side

He’ll stop the next war

Source: Bob Dylan: All The Songs

Overcoming Stigma

Stigma is when someone views you in a negative way because you have a distinguishing characteristic or personal trait that’s thought to be, or actually is, a disadvantage (a negative stereotype). Unfortunately, negative attitudes and beliefs toward people who have a mental health condition are common.

Stigma can lead to discrimination. Discrimination may be obvious and direct, such as someone making a negative remark about your mental illness or your treatment. Or it may be unintentional or subtle, such as someone avoiding you because the person assumes you could be unstable, violent or dangerous due to your mental illness. You may even judge yourself.

Some of the harmful effects of stigma can include:

• Reluctance to seek help or treatment

• Lack of understanding by family, friends, co-workers or others

• Fewer opportunities for work, school or social activities or trouble finding housing

• Bullying, physical violence or harassment

• Health insurance that doesn’t adequately cover your mental illness treatment

• The belief that you’ll never succeed at certain challenges or that you can’t improve your situation

Steps to cope with stigma

Here are some ways you can deal with stigma:

Get treatment. You may be reluctant to admit you need treatment. Don’t let the fear of being labeled with a mental illness prevent you from seeking help. Treatment can provide relief by identifying what’s wrong and reducing symptoms that interfere with your work and personal life.

Don’t let stigma create self-doubt and shame. Stigma doesn’t just come from others. You may mistakenly believe that your condition is a sign of personal weakness or that you should be able to control it without help. Seeking counseling, educating yourself about your condition and connecting with others who have mental illness can help you gain self-esteem and overcome destructive self-judgment.

Don’t isolate yourself. If you have a mental illness, you may be reluctant to tell anyone about it. Your family, friends, clergy or members of your community can offer you support if they know about your mental illness. Reach out to people you trust for the compassion, support and understanding you need.

Don’t equate yourself with your illness. You are not an illness. So instead of saying “I’m bipolar,” say “I have bipolar disorder.” Instead of calling yourself “a schizophrenic,” say “I have schizophrenia.”

Join a support group. Some local and national groups, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), offer local programs and internet resources that help reduce stigma by educating people who have mental illness, their families and the general public. Some state and federal agencies and programs, such as those that focus on vocational rehabilitation and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), offer support for people with mental illness.

Get help at school. If you or your child has a mental illness that affects learning, find out what plans and programs might help. Discrimination against students because of a mental illness is against the law, and educators at primary, secondary and college levels are required to accommodate students as best they can. Talk to teachers, professors or administrators about the best approach and resources. If a teacher doesn’t know about a student’s disability, it can lead to discrimination, barriers to learning and poor grades.

Speak out against stigma. Consider expressing your opinions at events, in letters to the editor or on the internet. It can help instill courage in others facing similar challenges and educate the public about mental illness.

Others’ judgments almost always stem from a lack of understanding rather than information based on facts. Learning to accept your condition and recognize what you need to do to treat it, seeking support, and helping educate others can make a big difference.

Sources: The Mayo Clinic, NAMI, NIH, To Write Love on Her Arms

(Mis)Representations of Mental Illness in the Media (Film & TV)

When mentally ill people are constantly villainized, stigmatized, and stereotyped in the media, then society inevitably buys into that false image that has been painted. The media has irrefutably contributed to society’s negative attitude towards people with mental illnesses. This negative attitude has significantly built up the stigma around mentally ill people today that makes it so hard to discuss our experiences and feelings.

“The worst stereotypes come out in such depictions: mentally ill individuals as incompetent, dangerous, slovenly, undeserving,” says Stephen Hinshaw, a professor of psychology at the University of California–Berkeley. “The portrayals serve to distance ‘them’ from the rest of ‘us.’”

~ “Mental illness” is used as a catch-all phrase to describe someone’s condition, as opposed to specific medical terminologies such as “schizophrenia” or “anxiety disorder.” And even then, little variation is shown from patient to patient; one movie portrayal of bipolar disorder tends to resemble another. There’s no discussion that each disease is different in each person, because each person is unique. In real life, mental illness shows up differently in everybody. The media does not represent the complexity of mental illness in general. There’s this sense that it’s just a one-name-fits-everybody, or one-title-fits-everybody.

~ People with mental illnesses are childish and silly. Many movies and TV shows – for example, “Me, Myself and Irene,” starring Jim Carrey as a patient with dissociative identity disorder, or “Monk,” the show about a detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder – make light of mental illnesses. They portray otherwise serious psychological conditions as mere quirks, or those who have them as silly, funny and childlike. These portrayals don’t convey the way most people with serious mental illnesses are in pain. In reality, they hurt. They’re struggling.

~ The idea that love, particularly in a romantic sense, can easily “cure” mental illnesses. Mental illness is portrayed as something that can be easily resolved by simply finding the right person. (Silver Linings Playbook, It’s Kind of a Funny Story)

~ The idea that psychotic people are inherently evil. While it is a fact that some violent crimes are carried out by people with psychotic illness, this is a completely inaccurate generalization. In fact, people with mental illnesses are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than the perpetrators. Characters on TV who were identified through behavior or label as having a mental illness were 10 times more likely than other TV characters to commit a violent crime – and between 10 to 20 times more likely to commit a violent crime than someone with a mental illness would be in real life. (Split, Silence of the Lambs)

~ The general romanticization of mental illnesses. Bringing attention to mental illnesses is one thing, but glamorizing them and using them to spice up a story is another.

~ People with mental illnesses can’t recover. “Recovery is seldom shown” in the media. When people [are shown seeking] therapy, when they go to psychiatric hospitals – rarely do they get better. If they do get better it’s enough that they’re stabilized, but not enough so that they’re integrated with the world, and have friends and jobs. The resulting message is that individuals with mental illnesses have no hope for a “normal” life. The reality is that this isn’t true: Experts say not only do patients often recover from psychiatric illnesses, but they can live healthy lives with the help of medications, therapy and support networks.

~ Psychiatric hospitals cause more harm than good. Many films and television shows continue to portray psychiatric hospitals as bereft of comfort or care – empty corridors, bare walls and intimidating wings filled with manipulative doctors whose treatments cause more harm than good. Patients are often shown as committed against their will, or psychotic and out-of-control. While all medical facilities differ in quality and care, today’s psychiatric wards and treatments are different – even if the public’s perception of them isn’t. Despite the common television or movie theme of a patient being sent to a psychiatric hospital against his or her will, that’s often not the case. In reality, a great number of people elect to go to psychiatric wards dispelling the notion that most patients are involuntarily committed. Laws differ from state to state, but on average it’s difficult to send patients to a psychiatric ward against their will.