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Author Topic: Mental Illness again and BTW Covens  (Read 8527 times)
Sine Silvering
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« Reply #15: October 04, 2007, 11:54:51 pm »

Off Topic:
I didn't think that Gardnerians had outer/inner court divisions, or actually outer courts at all.  Is this usual?

Whether there is an Outer Court or not is coven-specific.  Some groups have the time and desire to manage two separate groups; some don't.

And re The Topic...
I'm Gard.  That paragraph is badly phrased and seems intending to be challenging and antagonistic.  It's possible that it's their first Challenge for the aspirant; if you want it badly enough, you'll challenge them on the point and if you can convince them that your presence would not endanger yourself or the others in the group/gestalt during intense workings, you could be invited.  Maybe they just don't want any wimps.

Many of us believe that the Seeker's Road is a long and hard one; scars from honorable battle are not disqualifications, they are badges of honor.  But even those badges are not free passes.


That being said, I think that there are some psychiatric disorders that do eliminate one from being able to function in a sworn coven setting:  schizophrenia might be one, sociopathy/psychopathy (what word is the DSM using this week?) certainly is.  Whether the individual fits into any particular coven is up to the coven, ultimately.  The person and their... flavor?  feel?  there aren't words for it... their presence must fit smoothly into the group-mind. 

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« Reply #16: October 05, 2007, 08:20:38 am »

That being said, I think that there are some psychiatric disorders that do eliminate one from being able to function in a sworn coven setting:  schizophrenia might be one, sociopathy/psychopathy (what word is the DSM using this week?) certainly is.  Whether the individual fits into any particular coven is up to the coven, ultimately.  The person and their... flavor?  feel?  there aren't words for it... their presence must fit smoothly into the group-mind.

I would argue, at least with schizophrenia - badly-medicated or un-medicated schizophrenia is definitely something I wouldn't want to do energy work and the like with.  But if it's under control .. if it's under control, these people function quite well in regular society.  They have real jobs, they have real lives .. if it's under control, I'm not sure why they would be automatically a /bad/ fit for a coven.
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« Reply #17: October 05, 2007, 01:53:04 pm »

I am a trained counselor, and I too would have issues with bringing someone into my coven who has some diagnoses. 

In my Trad many psychiatric diagnoses would not be considered a barrier for membership, or at least consideration for membership.  I have PTSD, several members of the group have depressive disorders, and we have one Initiate who is bipolar.  However, I would have a harder time considering someone for membership who was psycho/sociopathic, had multiple personality disorders, or any of the other major psychotic as opposed to neurotic disorders.

I would be willing to look at their level of functioning and their compliance with any necessary program of medication on a case by case basis in many situations.  I might even like to discuss with their counselor what they were likely to be doing and whether that would be safe for them.  Some energy work can in fact trigger a psychotic break.  Believe me, I've had this happen in a circle we were running and it was NOT FUN and I DON'T want to do it again.  I truly see this as less a case of discrimination and far more a matter of safety for us and for them.  But for some diagnoses I would be very reluctant to even give it a trial run.  Remember that I also have to take responsibility for the safety and welfare of the coven as well as the potential candidate.

I am also perfectly willing to tell someone who is a member of the group and who decides not to take their meds, not to see their counselor, or begins to act out in inappropriate ways that they need to take a sabbatical until they deal with their personal issues.  After all, a coven is not a therapy group and it is not the appropriate place to be dealing with issues such as that.

I also don't see this as denying someone the right to their spirituality.  All I am saying is that we are not the group for them.  They are free to find another group or to work solitary.  Their spirituality is their own to pursue.

I will also point out here that most Traditions are to one extent or another exclusionary.  We do pick and chose who we feel is the best fit for the group based on many different things including personality, responsible lifestyle, etc.  Is this fair?  Well, I'm sure it seems unfair to the candidates who are not chosen.  But I know from experience that a coven which has interpersonal issues that cannot be resolved, or who has disruptive members, is not long for this world either.  So to a certain extent it comes down to the needs of the many vs the needs of the few.

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« Reply #18: October 05, 2007, 01:59:52 pm »

I would be willing to look at their level of functioning and their compliance with any necessary program of medication on a case by case basis in many situations.  I might even like to discuss with their counselor what they were likely to be doing and whether that would be safe for them. 

See, in my book, that's completely different and much more reasonable than a flat-out "we won't take anyone on meds."  Your reasoning is also far more supportable than what was originally quoted, IMHO.
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« Reply #19: October 05, 2007, 02:04:24 pm »

It's possible that it's their first Challenge for the aspirant; if you want it badly enough, you'll challenge them on the point and if you can convince them that your presence would not endanger yourself or the others in the group/gestalt during intense workings, you could be invited. 

That seems a little odd to me.  I mean, personally, if I were on meds and looking for a group, and I saw a note like that...  I'd kind of be inclined to think it wasn't the sort of group I wanted to be a part of anyway, if that was their attitude.  It doesn't seem like something that invites a challenge, to me; it seems like something that invites dismissal of the group as a serious consideration, not because the seeker doesn't want it badly enough, but because it gives the impression that this is not the group they're looking for at all.

But maybe I'm just not seeing this the right way...
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« Reply #20: October 05, 2007, 09:21:15 pm »

See, in my book, that's completely different and much more reasonable than a flat-out "we won't take anyone on meds."  Your reasoning is also far more supportable than what was originally quoted, IMHO.

Exactly. The original group seems to be saying "You aren't perfect? We don't want you." Saying "You aren't perfect, so you may not fit, we'll have to discuss specific cases" is not nearly as objectionable.
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« Reply #21: October 06, 2007, 01:58:34 am »

That seems a little odd to me.  I mean, personally, if I were on meds and looking for a group, and I saw a note like that...  I'd kind of be inclined to think it wasn't the sort of group I wanted to be a part of anyway, if that was their attitude.  It doesn't seem like something that invites a challenge, to me; it seems like something that invites dismissal of the group as a serious consideration, not because the seeker doesn't want it badly enough, but because it gives the impression that this is not the group they're looking for at all.

But maybe I'm just not seeing this the right way...

I don't think it's a matter of right or wrong... certain mind-sets resonate better with certain others and every coven has its own ways of identifying those people with whom they are comfortable.  BTW covens may guide someone they won't accept to another coven in the same trad if they perceive that the fit is good for the trad but not for the people in that particular coven. 
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« Reply #22: November 03, 2007, 12:07:45 pm »

"MY MAIN CONCERN AND QUESTION was if this policy was common, because after 11 years I've decided I am ready and devoted enough to pursue that step. However if having depression is going to be a problem, then I'd be better off staying solitary, no matter how ready I may feel. Clearly this rule is not consistent among all covens/trads, so I will continue to look elsewhere"

I don't think it is the rule. In my coven there are several people on medications for mental illness. As long as people do not allow themselves to be totally disruptive and out of control they are welcome in our group. Considering that also some of them are recovering/recovered alchoholics we have fruit juice instead of wine. We ask that anyone let us know of allergies that might be effected by incense and that sort of thing. This is the common sense approach. I don't think Gardnerian specific traditions are anymore prjudiced against mental illness than any other. the problem is the feelings of the person who runs the coven. each individual group will have thier own policies.
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« Reply #23: November 03, 2007, 08:51:15 pm »

In my coven there are several people on medications for mental illness.

I'm solitary, so I don't know the ways of covens, but how is it that you know everyone is truthful about taking medications, or that they need to take medications?  Are you all so close that you actually disclose that kind of information? 
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« Reply #24: November 03, 2007, 10:17:39 pm »

I'm solitary, so I don't know the ways of covens, but how is it that you know everyone is truthful about taking medications, or that they need to take medications?  Are you all so close that you actually disclose that kind of information? 

Can't speak for everyone - but yes.

We also ask, explicitly, about any medical or mental health issue that's currently part of their life.

People can lie to us - but honestly, in moderately intensive energy work and training with people over a period of time, alert groupmates will likely figure it out. Between events over times when you might need to take meds, mentions of scheduling issues, or requests for help for one thing or another, it's pretty likely to come out sooner than later.

We are explicitly a training group, which makes this even more important: badly handled mental or physical health issues pose not only a danger to the person - a bad thing when we've ritually taken on responsibility for them - but also for the overall health of the group.

Someone having mental health issues would not in and of itself be a problem in my current group (though, as I said in my reply, there's some stuff I'm more and less comfortable working with, and some stuff I'd only work with with a *really* solid external support net, due to my past personal experience with it.) Someone lying in answer to that question *would* however, be a significant issue.

I can think of at least 5 disclosures of significant personal health info, done in our initial interview process. I can think of no examples of significant info being witheld, where it was known by the person applying (and diagnosed/previously treated, etc.)

I can think of two times where mental health issues might be part of an issue that caused chaos in terms of the group - in both cases, the people involved were resistant to professional treatment or evaluation, and it was their actual behavior that was a deciding factor in asking them to leave the group, not a diagnosis (except that if they'd been willing to see a professional, and find appropriate ways to respond, the problematic behavior could probably have been worked with.) Both those situations, however, came at an extremely high cost both to the group leadership, and to the group as a whole (both situations occupied basically the entire excess energy of the leadership for better than 2 months, between deciding what to do, working through making it happen, and processing it afterwards: it brought a lot of other things to a standstill.)
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« Reply #25: November 03, 2007, 10:51:44 pm »

I'm solitary, so I don't know the ways of covens, but how is it that you know everyone is truthful about taking medications, or that they need to take medications?  Are you all so close that you actually disclose that kind of information? 

Like Jennet said, I can't speak for everyone else on the board, but I can speak for me and mine. And yes, we are that close. We're a family, and we share just about everything with each other - even the TMI bits. Wink

We do ask if the Seeker has any ailments we should be made aware of. Here are the last four questions on the two pages:

Do you have any special needs (disabilities, etc)?:

Do you have specific concerns that you would like to address at this time?:

Do you have any questions about the Gwyddoniad which our website did not cover?:

Is there anything else you would like to add?:
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« Reply #26: November 04, 2007, 01:09:50 am »

"... we will not take anyone who is on medication for any mental illness except for those who have epilepsy. It is our belief that if you cannot function as a fully responsible adult in mundane reality then you cannot function effectively in the magical/mystical realities and should not attempt to do so until you have all your oars in the water and they are working all in proper tandem."

I feel like I should add something to this.

This is a very ignorant statement, true. If the coven do not feel that they are experienced or skilled enough to deal with mental issues, that's fine. But if their way of disqualifying someone is based on not being able to "function as a responsible adult in mundane reality", and are on medication, I have a few extra medications that could disqualify people in their eyes:

Hormonal Contraceptives - in some cases, these can cause psychotic episodes, and can certainly affect the mental wellbeing of the woman using them. A friend tells me she woke up one morning with an almost uncontrollable urge to stab her partner with a carving knife not long after having a contraceptive implant put in. Needless to say, she had it taken out rather quick-smart, but I certainly wouldn't have wanted to be in a ritual circle with her when she got that urge. She also had no personal nor family history of any kind of mental illness.

Sedatives - Wow, these would be fun in trance work (Someone might want to wake me up for cakes and ale).

Painkillers - See sedatives.

And there are plenty more commonly prescribed drugs which can affect the mental state and aptitude of the individual who is taking them (malaria tablets included - I've had first-hand experience with these). I think this particular coven needs to look at rewording their statement, and also take a closer look at what medication actually does for a person.

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