The world is full of mental health diagnoses, and each day these are becoming more common as more people get diagnosed with a condition affecting their daily life. Nevertheless, little attention is given to how the system of psychiatric nomenclatures goes on to perpetuate the very pathologies they claim to treat.
A person might think they are normal, until they are told they are not. That is, until a diagnosis is given which reinforces the very patterns of behaviours which the clinician is attempting to treat or make absent. As a matter of fact, it isn’t until people are given diagnoses that they begin to identify with specific sets of behaviour. In a way, the clinician prescribes such sets of behaviours when they— often forcibly— attribute a label to a human being who might just be having a hard time.
People have rough times, and sometimes during such rough times, people might act in ways which are out of character; that is, unusual patterns of behaviour which express distress. Nonetheless, the average diagnosis will limit a person’s personality to a criteria which can indeed narrow a person’s imagination and hamper their very dreams.
Is the system creating individuals who are different by labelling them when they are teenagers? Psychology shows us that teenagers are still in major developmental stages where personality and character, among many other traits, become more defined. A label can really throw a teenager off that trajectory and influence their identity to a point in which the human being might feel that all they are is what the label prescribes.
For instance, the diagnoses of personality disorder have somehow made it through so scientific rigour; yet, even the concept of it begins to disintegrate in psychiatric nomenclatures such as the ICD-11. Clinicians can at times forget that behind every label given, there is a human being with a complex life of his or her own. They, thus, enslave an individual to a pattern regardless of the consequences this may have on their general wellbeing.
As someone who has been labelled, I can tell that being ‘marked’ as disordered since I was a teenager affected my identity. It simply affected me more than I could express. It attempted to wash away the uniqueness of my personality, and it tried to box me into a criteria that I did not even fully meet. Now that I am in my thirties, I have come to analyse how the iatrogenic effects affected my development, and I can honestly say that sometimes I think I would have been better off away from the system and not being diagnosed in the first place.
I was only 17 years old when I was labelled. At such an age, I was still forming ‘me’, and being given such a set of criteria only added elements which perhaps might never have appeared if it was not for the neoliberal touch of intervention. But I am not the only one, and apart from everything mentioned already, stigma is also a definite cause for distress in labelled individuals. What for the clinician might be a random job at the office, can become a devastating, life-changing event for the human being being subjugated to an external opinion about their internal functioning. In a way, the clinician creates the pathology by giving a label.
Betshy’s Mental Health is a mental health organization dedicated to providing support and resources to individuals and families affected by mental health issues. We strive to create a safe and supportive environment for those struggling with mental health issues, and to provide resources and support to help them manage their mental health. We believe that everyone deserves access to quality mental health care, and we are committed to providing the best possible care to those in need.
How to Manage Stress and Anxiety with Betshy’s Mental Health
Stress and anxiety can be overwhelming and can have a negative impact on your mental health. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage stress and anxiety with Betshy’s Mental Health.
The first step in managing stress and anxiety is to identify the source of your stress and anxiety. This can be done by keeping a journal and writing down your thoughts and feelings. Once you have identified the source of your stress and anxiety, you can begin to develop strategies to manage it.
One of the most effective strategies for managing stress and anxiety is to practice relaxation techniques. These techniques can include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery. Deep breathing helps to reduce stress and anxiety by calming the body and mind. Progressive muscle relaxation helps to reduce tension in the body by tensing and relaxing different muscle groups. Guided imagery helps to reduce stress and anxiety by focusing on positive images and thoughts.
Another strategy for managing stress and anxiety is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of your thoughts and feelings in the present moment without judgment. Practicing mindfulness can help to reduce stress and anxiety by allowing you to be more aware of your thoughts and feelings and to respond to them in a more positive way.
Finally, it is important to take care of your physical health when managing stress and anxiety. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep can all help to reduce stress and anxiety. Additionally, it is important to take breaks throughout the day to relax and unwind.
By following these strategies, you can effectively manage stress and anxiety with Betshy’s Mental Health. With the right tools and techniques, you can take control of your mental health and lead a happier and healthier life.
The Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation for Betshy’s Mental Health
Mindfulness and meditation are two powerful tools that can be used to improve mental health. For many people, these practices can be a source of relief from stress, anxiety, and depression. Betshy can benefit from mindfulness and meditation in a variety of ways.
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations in the present moment. It involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment or criticism. Mindfulness can help Betshy to become more aware of her thoughts and feelings, allowing her to better manage her emotions. It can also help her to become more aware of her physical sensations, such as tension or pain, and to respond to them in a more constructive way.
Meditation is a practice that involves focusing on a single point of attention, such as the breath, a mantra, or a visualization. It can help Betshy to become more aware of her thoughts and feelings, and to gain a greater sense of control over them. Meditation can also help her to cultivate a sense of inner peace and calm, which can be beneficial for managing stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness and meditation can also help Betshy to cultivate a greater sense of self-compassion. By being more aware of her thoughts and feelings, she can learn to be kinder and more understanding towards herself. This can help her to develop healthier coping strategies for dealing with difficult emotions.
Overall, mindfulness and meditation can be beneficial for Betshy’s mental health. By practicing these techniques, she can become more aware of her thoughts and feelings, gain a greater sense of control over them, and cultivate a greater sense of self-compassion.
Understanding the Impact of Trauma on Betshy’s Mental Health
Trauma can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health. In the case of Betshy, it is important to understand the potential effects of her traumatic experiences on her mental health.
Trauma can cause a range of psychological and emotional responses, including feelings of fear, guilt, shame, and helplessness. It can also lead to changes in behavior, such as avoidance of certain situations or people, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty sleeping. In addition, trauma can lead to the development of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In Betshy’s case, it is likely that her traumatic experiences have had a significant impact on her mental health. She may be experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD, such as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, and difficulty sleeping. She may also be avoiding certain situations or people, and struggling to concentrate.
It is important to recognize the impact of trauma on Betshy’s mental health and to provide her with the support she needs to cope with her experiences. This may include therapy, medication, and other forms of support. It is also important to provide her with a safe and supportive environment in which she can process her experiences and begin to heal.
Exploring the Role of Diet and Nutrition in Betshy’s Mental Health
Mental health is an important aspect of overall health and wellbeing, and diet and nutrition can play a significant role in its maintenance. Betsy’s mental health is no exception. Eating a balanced diet and getting the right nutrients can help Betsy to maintain her mental health and wellbeing.
The food we eat can have a direct impact on our mental health. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from the five food groups – grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and protein – can help Betsy to get the nutrients she needs to stay healthy. Eating a balanced diet can also help Betsy to maintain a healthy weight, which is important for her overall health.
Certain nutrients are especially important for Betsy’s mental health. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, nuts, and seeds, are essential for brain health and can help to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Vitamin B12, found in animal products such as meat, eggs, and dairy, is important for maintaining healthy nerve cells and can help to reduce symptoms of depression. Iron, found in red meat, beans, and dark leafy greens, is important for maintaining energy levels and can help to reduce fatigue.
In addition to eating a balanced diet, Betsy should also be mindful of her eating habits. Eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day can help to maintain her energy levels and prevent her from feeling overly hungry or full. Eating slowly and mindfully can also help Betsy to be more aware of her hunger and fullness cues and to make healthier food choices.
Finally, Betsy should be mindful of her intake of processed and sugary foods. Eating too much of these foods can lead to an imbalance in her blood sugar levels, which can have a negative impact on her mental health. Eating too much sugar can also lead to weight gain, which can have a negative impact on her mental health.
In conclusion, Betsy’s diet and nutrition can play an important role in her mental health. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from the five food groups, getting the right nutrients, and being mindful of her eating habits and intake of processed and sugary foods can help Betsy to maintain her mental health and wellbeing.
The Benefits of Exercise for Betshy’s Mental Health
Exercise is an important part of maintaining good mental health. For Betshy, regular exercise can provide a range of benefits that can help her to manage her mental health.
Firstly, exercise can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Physical activity releases endorphins, which are hormones that can help to reduce stress and improve mood. Exercise can also help to reduce the physical symptoms of stress, such as muscle tension and headaches.
Secondly, exercise can help to improve sleep. Regular exercise can help to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, which is the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. This can help to improve the quality and duration of sleep, which can have a positive effect on mental health.
Thirdly, exercise can help to improve self-esteem. Regular exercise can help to improve physical appearance, which can lead to an increase in self-confidence and self-esteem. This can help to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
Finally, exercise can help to improve concentration and focus. Regular exercise can help to improve cognitive function, which can help to improve concentration and focus. This can be beneficial for Betshy, as it can help her to stay focused and productive.
In conclusion, regular exercise can provide a range of benefits for Betshy’s mental health. Exercise can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, boost self-esteem, and improve concentration and focus. For these reasons, it is important for Betshy to make exercise a regular part of her routine.
Betshy’s mental health has improved significantly since she began her journey of self-care and self-reflection. She has learned to recognize her triggers and has developed coping strategies to help her manage her emotions. She has also become more aware of her own needs and has taken steps to prioritize her own wellbeing. With continued effort and dedication, Betshy can continue to make progress in her mental health journey.
Quantum spirits can travel in time to trace specific cold cases. For instance, in regards to Princess Diana’s death, quantum spirits could be used to trace back the events surrounding her death and potentially reveal the truth behind it. Quantum spirits could also be used to trace other cold cases, such as unsolved murders or disappearances. Quantum spirits are able to travel through time and space to access information that is otherwise inaccessible in the present. They can detect energy signatures and link them to the past to trace events that occurred during that time. In this sense, quantum spirits can be used to trace cold cases, as they can access information from the past and link it to the present. Additionally, quantum spirits can also be used to uncover hidden motives and intentions behind a particular cold case, as they can detect energy patterns that are otherwise undetectable in the present. Overall, quantum spirits can be used to trace cold cases by accessing information from the past and uncovering hidden motives and intentions. This can help to reveal the truth behind unsolved cases and potentially help to find justice. Nevertheless, quantum spirits exist only in the realm of quantum physics and do not have any knowledge about events in the physical world, such as the death of Princess Diana.
But, how about extraterrestrial singularity? Extraterrestrial singularity is a concept that falls under the realm of quantum physics, so quantum spirits may be able to provide some information related to it. However, they would not be able to provide any information related to the death of Princess Diana. The death of Princess Diana is a historical event and cannot be changed. Quantum spirits cannot provide information about events that have already occurred in the physical world. They may be able to provide information about concepts related to quantum physics, such as extraterrestrial singularity. But, how did she die? Princess Diana died in a car accident in Paris in 1997. The driver, who was also killed in the accident, was found to be legally drunk and driving at a high speed when the accident occurred.
So why is prince Harry so sceptical about it all? Prince Harry may be sceptical due to the many conspiracy theories that have been created around the death of Princess Diana. Some of these theories claim that the accident was not an accident, but was instead a planned assassination. Prince Harry has been vocal about his doubts regarding these theories.
Was there MENS REA behind her death?
Mens Rea, or criminal intent, is not believed to have been behind Princess Diana’s death. The driver of the car, Henri Paul, was found to be legally drunk and driving at a high speed when the accident occurred and this was deemed the cause of the accident.
According to the British Psychological Society (n.d.) the Power Threat Meaning Framework applies to everyone. This framework was initially created as an alternative to more traditional psychiatric nomenclatures. This model is trauma-informed and it is utilised by high profile hospitals such as Rampton Hospital (Willmot and Siddall, 2022).
The framework consists in asking four initial questions, which answers can then be re-used to answer the two final questions. Willmot and Siddall (2022, pp. 32-33) state that the framework can also be ‘applied to understanding the needs of people who offend or behave in challenging ways’. The framework makes some assumptions about trauma:
Mental illness and behavioural problems can be understood by analysing the role of power abuse.
Abuses of power can impact negatively on people and can restrict them to the point where individuals might not be able to meet their most basic needs.
Much of what we know as psychopathology can also be understood as learned responses people have developed to adapt or survive to adverse circumstances.
The framework looks into the negative operation of power in a holistic way based on a person’s narrative. It is recognised that power can be biological/embodied, coercive, economic, social, cultural, and interpersonal. It also recognises that much of this reality is configured to privilege ‘white, male, heterosexual, wealthy, educated, and mentally healthy people’ (Willmot and Siddall, 2022, pp. 32-33).
Threat within the scope of this framework refers to the risks related to abuses of power which can prevent a person from meeting their core needs. There are several types of threats such as physical, economic, health, social, emotional, quality of life, disability, or deprivation threats. These threatening events or potentials can lead to relational dysfunctions, disrupted attachments, abandonment fears; feelings of betrayal, shame, guilt, insecurity, and entrapment.
The framework is also person-centred, and recognises that every individual is unique. This leads to the assumption that people interpret events and give meaning to these events in unique ways. For instance, male and women due to societal stereotypes might have different expectations for behaviour. Different cultures give different meaning to different events, for instance, some cultures would engage in honour-abuse of girls who have been sexually assaulted. Therefore, the social, environmental, and political contexts all influence meaning.
The framework posits that much of what we know as psychopathology are responses people develop to perceived threats in order to cope and/or survive (Willmot and Siddall, 2022). Ultimately, people at times develop specific habits, behaviours, or personality patterns as a result of their unmet needs. Hence, this framework seeks to ask some questions which answers can elucidate the unique perspective of the individual, potential power abuse triggers, as well as unique needs that must be met. These are the questions:
What has happened to you? (i.e. How is power operating in your life?)
How did it affect you? (i.e. What kind of threats did this pose?)
What sense did you make of it? (i.e. What is the meaning of these situations and experiences to you?)
What did you have to do to survive? (i.e. What kind of threat responses are you using?)
What are your strengths? (i.e. What access to power resources do you have?)
What is your story? (i.e. Pulling of these reflections together)
These questions allow for the understanding of how a person has experienced abuses of power, the threats that resulted from such dynamics, the unique meaning a person gave to these events, and the specific threat responses that were developed as a result, as well as the strengths. Having this information in place, proactive support plans can be formulated ensuring that all interventions are trauma-informed, and person-centred.
Victims are being thrown into jail for disclosing their experiences of domestic abuse.
I recently had a deep conversation with a dear friend from Canada, whose name I will keep confidential. We were talking about narcissistic relationships and narcissistic abuse. I explained to her the status of domestic abuse in the UK, where previous to 2021 before the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 was passed, most domestic abusers got away with their crimes. I was curious to understand what the situation in Canada is about domestic abuse. The Canadian Women Foundation (2021) posits that every six days, a woman is killed in Canada as a result of domestic violence.
I was horrified to find out that the government is currently arresting both perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse simultaneously. What this means is that when a victim of domestic abuse calls the police for help in Canada, the victim is also placed in jail and if they have children, they are automatically placed in foster care. I was shocked, I could not believe the level of fascism that is taking place in Canada. My first thought was ‘how is the Canadian government getting away with these human rights violations’? As a founding member of the United Nations charter, Canada has international commitments to maintain peace and security.
My friend disclosed to me that a few years ago she had been arrested and placed in jail for three days for calling the police about domestic abuse and to report her perpetrator. It seemed, the police could not make up their minds about how to tackle domestic abuse, so they decided to give equal punishment to both the victim and the perpetrator. This is unacceptable, since there exist international conventions which place a duty on the Canadian government to protect victims. However, what they are doing instead is victimising those who have been abused.
I decided to conduct a little research about it, and found that many women are going through this in Canada, not just my friend. For instance, the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia (EVA BC; 2022a) deals with cases of domestic abuse and coordinates interventions to help victims. They have a Community Coordination for Women’s Safety (CCWS) program which formulates and implements strategies to support victims of domestic abuse (EVA BC; 2022b). The CCWS (2010) wrote a report which corroborated my friend’s story. The report (p. 2) states:
‘In recent years, CCWS and EVA BC have received numerous reports from communities of cases involving the arrest of both parties in relationship violence situations. These communities have contacted us to express their concern. They report that women are being arrested even when there is evidence of a history of violence by their male partners’.
Furthermore, they explain the impact that such situation has, such as:
Less prosecution for these cases.
More liability for police services.
Empowerment of the perpetrator to continue the abuse.
Victimisation of victims.
Increased potential for homicide.
Decreased likelihood that victims will disclose or seek help.
Thwarted access to justice for victims.
Thwarted attempts to access support for victims.
Similarly, the Woman Abuse Council of Toronto (2005) published a report where they highlight the problematic situation of victims of domestic abuse being charged with domestic violence whilst living with abusive men. They made several recommendations which included:
To take into consideration that women’s use of force is not the same as men’s (often, violence arising from women was self-defence).
That when it comes to arrests, the dominant aggressor should be identified in a relationship where domestic abuse has taken place.
That there need to be mechanisms in place to ensure that victims are able to access support services and victim services, which are thwarted by criminalising the victim.
That more legal aid should be available to women.
Finally, and more recently Grace (2019) reported around the same problematic, persistent, and pervasive issues related to the inappropriate arrests of women in domestic abuse cases. The article explains that whilst the police has a duty to identify the dominant aggressor in a relationship, women continue to be inappropriately arrested in situations of intimate partner violence. She states: ‘Women experience these failures by police as betrayal. Some even feel the police become complicit to their on-going abuse. As a result, women who have been inappropriately charged in situations of intimate partner violence say they would be unwilling to turn to the police for protection in the future, even if they are again victims of violence’. Furthermore, she provides 18 case studies and accounts of this situation.
As it can be seen in this post, the situation of domestic abuse in Canada is a mess. My friend was one of those people who were inappropriately arrested, and who now feels that no one can protect her from domestic violence, because the police themselves are being abusive of their power. This type of human rights violation should not happen in theory, but in practice, as it has been demonstrated, injustice is an everyday experience for many women in Canada. This situation has been going on for a long time, and despite recommendations and updates to policies, it continues to affect victims and to silence their voices through state-sponsored fascism.
Not preventing domestic abuse takes a huge toll on the system’s economy. It is very expensive to allow these negative events to happen. A lot of taxpayer money is used in reacting to domestic abuse, and reactive responses are more costly than preventive approaches.
According to the GOV.UK (2019, p. 6) the total cost for domestic abuse was £66,192m, and on average, it costs £34,015 to react to these incidents per victim, and up to £2.2m in cases of domestic homicide. Of course, these are estimates which do not include the dark figure of crime (i.e. the cases which have not been reported). Moreover, these costs include the police, the criminal justice system, the civil legal system, and the multi-agency risk assessment conferences. Furthermore, there are also costs associated with the services offered to victims after an adverse event happens, such as health and victim services. These yearly figures were for the year ending in 2017 (there does not currently seem to exist any more recent report).
Police Service Provision
The police spend approximately £1,257 million per year responding to domestic abuse. The fees include the investigation, incident response, arrests, the collection of evidence, and the presenting of the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). All this amounts to approximately £645 per person.
Criminal Justice System
It costs approximately £336 million per year to cover criminal justice fees related to the CPS which include the services of taking a case to court, holding hearings, legal aid and perpetrator defence. This amounts to an average of £170 per case. The criminal courts are there to take cases involving grievous bodily harm and murder.
Civil Legal System
This system of courts deals with aspects of domestic abuse related to injunctions (e.g. restraining or non-molestation orders), divorce, child custody, and child protection. The costs amount to a total of £140 million per year, equalling to an average of £70 per case.
Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences
These meetings involve governmental representatives and third-sector organisations, where information and support is provided to individuals assessed as high risk of being abused. It may also involve members of the police, child protection agencies, health organisations, and housing organisations. These conferences cost around £11 million per year, which amounts to approximately £5 per case.
These fees cover the treatments for injuries caused by domestic abuse, ambulances, and also mental health services treating emotional and psychological trauma. In total, it costs £2,333 million per year, which amounts to £1200 per case.
Victim support services involve specialists to support the abused individual, and also wider services such as housing, group services, and the support from the Department of Work and Pensions. It also covers third sector organisations and government-funded agencies. The total is £724 million per year, amounting to £370 per case.
According to the NHS (2019), ‘being autistic does not mean you have an illness or disease. It means your brain works in a different way from other people’. The core characteristics of autism are: (1) poor social communication; (2) poor social interaction; (3) sensory processing differences; (4) sensory sensitivity; (5) repetitive behaviours; and (6) obsessions and fixations on special interests. These characteristics can vary, and some individuals show two or three, whilst others might be more severely affected (Lincoln College, 2022). This blog post will explore these core characteristics, the unofficial subtypes of autism, and the complex process of diagnosis.
Individuals experiencing the behavioural abnormalities, will show a fixation on specific activities, tools, toys, etc. They may use these objects in particular ways. Furthermore, they may engage in repetitive behaviours such as hand flapping or spinning around, might become upset if their routine is disrupted, and will insist on maintaining consistency. Moreover, they might have unusual sensory interests, either a high or low tolerance to pain, unpredictable verbal outbursts, and might become upset at sensory intrusions. Finally, they might also engage in risky or self-injurious behaviour.
Individuals experiencing communication difficulties might have a delayed language development, speech difficulties and/or reliance on alternative communication methods, high levels of articulation, literal interpretation of words (i.e. lack of understanding of jokes or sarcasm), problems starting and maintaining conversations, stereotyped and repetitive use of phrases, a monotonous voice tone, and poor interpretation of body language or other forms of non-verbal communication.
Individuals experiencing social difficulties might struggle to form and sustain friendships, might show a lack of interest in social activities, might engage in inappropriate social responses, might have a lack of awareness of boundaries, might reject expressions of affection such as hugging, might prefer to role play, and might be naive, suggestible and overly trusty of others.
The Unofficial Subtypes of Autism
Due to current diagnostic manuals such as the DSM-V (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) and ICD-11 (World Health Organisation, 2019), individuals are generally given a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) regardless of their profiles. Yet, there are unofficial categories used by the autistic community to understand differences better.
Individuals categorised as having Asperger’s syndrome tend to have a higher than average I.Q., and unlike other forms of autism, no speech or cognitive difficulties. However, interpersonal difficulties are prevalent for them, as they struggle to communicate and interact with others. Yet, the symptoms are invisible and difficult to spot. They may also have pathologies which affect their day to day life (Lincoln College, 2022). Asperger’s syndrome is no longer diagnosed (McCrimmon, 2018) but it is still generally seen as a subtype of autism. It is also believed that Asperger’s syndrome is a form of high-functioning autism (HFA) which according to Lincoln College (2022) entails a delay in development, an inability to read facial expressions, a hypersensitivity to light and noise, and a desire for socialisation without understanding how to effectively do it. Nevertheless, HFA is not diagnosable, although it is also recognised by autistic populations.
Individuals categorised as having Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) tend to have intersubjective difficulties and to avoid the demands of everyday life. This profile is not an universally recognised form of autism by healthcare professionals, however, it is still generally used by autistic populations. According to the National Autistic Society (n.d.), an individual with this profile ‘(a) resists and avoids the ordinary demands of life; (b) uses social strategies as part of avoidance, for example, distracting, giving excuses; (c) appears sociable, but lacks some understanding; (d) experiences excessive mood swings and impulsivity; (e) appears comfortable in role play and pretence; and (f) displays obsessive behaviour that is often focused on other people’. Furthermore, Lincoln College (2022) states that these individuals have an anxiety-based desire to remain in control all the time, and can become aggressive if they feel they are not in control. They also seem to get stressed out if anything is expected of them. However, if they feel comfortable, they seem normal.
Individuals labelled as having Kanner’s Autism also known as ‘Classic Autism’ are described as having impairments in communication, and a fixation on activities with restrictive or repetitive behaviour such as hand flapping. The criteria for this autism profile is: (1) an impairment in the use of non-verbal skills, poor eye contact, and an inability to interpret body language; (2) inability to make and maintain friendships; (3) inability to enjoy interests or share activities; (4) inability to respond appropriately to emotion in others; (5) delay in, or complete lack of language development; (6) repetitive use of language; (7) fixation on a particular interest; (8) inflexibility to change routines; and (9) repetitive physical movements (Lincoln College, 2022). However, this is not diagnosable.
Individuals diagnosed as having atypical autism are those whose pattern of behaviour fits most but not all of the criteria for other forms of autism. It can often be undiagnosed for many years as individuals tend to be given this label later in life.
Finally, individuals categorised as having Savant syndrome have skills which are uncommon to most people, as well as having the general characteristics of autism. Among the extraordinary abilities seen in savant autism are being able to mentally solve complex mathematical problems, having great memory for specific details of something, high quality artistic skills, and outstanding musical talent.
The advantage of diagnosing Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is that individuals and their families can find as much information as possible about the condition and engage in psychoeducation, which can foster a sense of relief. The diagnosis might help the individuals have more clarity about their difficulties, and might give them more insight into potential comorbidities or wrong diagnoses. Moreover, a personalised care plan with strategies can be devised for ongoing support in all sectors. Nevertheless, a disadvantage of diagnosis is that individuals have to live with the stigma (i.e. negative stereotyping) associated with psychiatric labels, and how the label can affect their relationships and lead to prejudice and discrimination. Furthermore, another disadvantage is that individuals might become depressed with the fact that autism has no cure. They might also experience more adverse circumstances as a result of having a diagnosed disability, and all these negative variables might lead the individual to internalise the label and to embrace the maladaptive behaviours associated with the label which shapes their identity (Lincoln College, 2022).
Diagnosis is usually done through a person’s GP; however, a paediatrician, a speech and language therapist, an educational psychologist, and/or a specialist psychologist might also need to be involved; and sometimes this multidisciplinary approach can take years before a diagnosis is given (Lincoln College, 2022). Moreover, information for diagnosis is also gathered from relatives, teachers and friends of the individual presenting with symptoms. The individual might be observed as he or she conducts activities and skills might be tested. Furthermore, professionals working with people with autism must take on board the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE; n.d.) guidelines. These specifically state that anyone working with autism should be skilled and competent and have tactful communication skills (Lincoln College, 2022).
There are several factors that influence the diagnosis of autism: (1) culture— behaviours classed as ‘abnormal’ by a society might bring attention and concern to others. Some countries might perceive different behaviours as ‘symptomatic’, whilst others might see the same behaviours as completely ‘normal’. Also, stigma might become a barrier to diagnosis; (2) age— even though the symptoms of autism can be spotted when the individual is 2-3 years old, many professionals refuse to make a diagnosis until later on. However, some professionals are also reluctant to diagnose adults; (3) sex— males tend to get a diagnosis of autism more than females. Some believe that this is due to how different the characteristics manifest, with girls being more able to hide the symptoms; (4) parental attitudes— some children might not get diagnosed because their parents cannot effectively spot the symptoms, or they might ignore these manifestations out of fear of being judged. Alternatively, parents might insist to the family GP that the child has a problem even if such is not the case; (5) coexisting conditions— autism often has mental and physical comorbidities, making it more difficult to pinpoint the exact cause for specific behaviours, and making diagnosis more complicated; and (6) genetic factors— autism has a genetic link that runs in families.
Furthermore, there are also barriers to diagnosing autism such as a lack of local services for autistic people, which means that a formal diagnosis with the necessary multidisciplinary specialists is not always possible as a GP might have limited knowledge of the condition. This might subsequently lead to individuals not being diagnosed for a long time, which might prevent them from wanting a diagnosis in the future. It can also lead to individuals not having a documented developmental history, which can affect the process of diagnosis. Moreover, another barrier to diagnosing autism is how subtle some of the symptoms can be, and how subjective the interpretation of these symptoms also is (Lincoln College, 2022).
American Psychiatric Association (2013a) Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed.
This blog post will educate the reader about the signs of domestic abuse, and how to identify it in every day life. It also touches on the specific symptoms and indicators of female genital mutilation, forced marriage, honour-based abuse, and digital domestic abuse; as well as who is most at risk from experiencing these.
Individuals affected by physical violence present with recurrent physical injuries such as black eyes, bruises, split lips, marks on the neck, or sprained wrists. Moreover, the explanations given for these injuries might be inconsistent, and might be obviously a cover-up for something else. Finally, they might also wince when making motor movements as if in pain and trying to avoid pressure on a specific part of the body. However, it must be noted that perpetrators tend to be wary of where they leave marks, so as to avoid getting caught. So in many cases, physical abuse is hidden from the public eye and the victim is manipulated into keeping things secret. Physical signs of domestic abuse might not always be visible because the perpetrator might be ensuring that they leave no evidence that could incriminate them. This might mean that they will attack the victim in specific hidden places such as the head, the stomach, or breasts, among other places. Furthermore, they might have manipulated the victim to hide the marks, or to keep silent; and the victim might actually be using clothing, make-up, and accessories to actively cover the injury.
Emotional & Psychological Abuse
Individuals affected by emotional abuse present with symptoms of agitation and anxiety, chronic tiredness and insomnia, substance or alcohol use disorder, submissiveness (e.g. apologising all of the time), anhedonia, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, fear or wariness, depression, and/or suicidal ideation. Whilst these symptoms might not always be caused by domestic abuse, these are commonly experienced by people who are in abusive relationships. Therefore, it is important to take into account these indicators when safeguarding adults from potential abuse which might be hidden. Emotional signs of domestic abuse are inherently invisible and can only be detected by observation. If the victim does not have a support network who knows them well, it might be more difficult for anyone to notice any differences in behaviour. Furthermore, not everyone is equipped with the knowledge to correctly identify signs of emotional abuse. Moreover, victims might actually avoid disclosing anything, especially if the perpetrator has manipulated them to keep things to themselves through blame and/or threats.
Individuals affected by domestic abuse present with behavioural markers that could reveal their ordeal such as drastic behaviour or personality changes, unjustified self-isolation, being unable to attend scheduled meetings, avoidance of social gatherings, the sudden reluctance to engage in activities once enjoyed, and/or secretive behaviours. Furthermore, the individual might appear anxious and/or fearful, and their behaviour might seem extremely ‘well-behaved’ when around their perpetrator. These individuals may try to cover up the abuse they are being put through by giving excuses that are unrelated to what is actually happening. Behavioural signs of domestic abuse are difficult to pinpoint if the victim is not known to the witness very well, and therefore the witness cannot notice a change in usual behaviour. This means that unless someone notices the situation, a bystander intervention is unlikely, especially when the victim makes excuses for apparent unusual incidents which no one can recognise as an inconsistency.
Individuals affected by coercive control present with signs and indicators such as asking their perpetrator for permission to socialise with others, receiving numerous texts and/or calls from their perpetrator, having no money or access to it, having no car and being picked up by their perpetrator all the time, and/or needing to be home at specific times. These individuals might also keep these patterns secret, and might actually feel shame related to their ordeal. Signs of coercive control are often quite hidden from everyday life because the victim might appear to be respectful rather than fearful of her perpetrator. Others might not pick up on the abusive flood of texts and/or calls, or might not understand that all of these communications come from the perpetrator. Furthermore, victims might feel embarrassed to disclose their financial situation and/or dependencies, and might avoid answering truthfully when questioned about details.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Women who have been genitally mutilated present with difficulty walking, sitting, or standing; they show signs of being in pain, and may spend longer in the toilet than usual. They might be anxious, depressed, and/or might be self-isolating without a justification. They might present with drastic changes of behaviour and personality, may engage in truancy at school/college/university, might become absent from work and/or might withdraw from social activities. Furthermore, the Home Office has a list of countries flagged as ‘risky’ when it comes to female genital mutilation. These are Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Egypt, Nigeria, Eritrea, Yemen, Kurdistan, and Indonesia. Women and girls at risk of female genital mutilation are those who speak about special ceremonies or rituals about womanhood in their culture, those who say that they are going on holiday outside the UK, those who say that a ‘special’ relative is coming to visit them, and those have family members who have been already mutilated. This means that when women and girls present with any of the above indicators, and especially when they have connections to any of the blacklisted countries, they should be safeguarded through bystander intervention.
Forced marriage happens here in the UK and also abroad. Sometimes only the woman is forced, and other times both parties are forced. Individuals affected by forced marriage present with truancy or absence from work, fearfulness and anxiety about holidays, failure to return to occupational life after a holiday, not being allowed to study or work, having excessive parental control, depression or isolation, and/or attempts to escape their ordeal at home. Furthermore, those at risk of being forced into marriage include those who have connections to those who have already been forced to marry, and those whose culture promotes early marriage. Countries known to have child marriage include Nigeria, Central African Republic, Chad, Bangladesh, Mali, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mozambique and India (Reid, 2018); as well as Pakistan (Ijaz, 2018).
In some cultures, the family or community might attempt to protect or defend their shared values through abusive means and/or threats of abusive means such as harassment, assault, imprisonment, murder and rape. This is what is known as honour-based abuse and it is directly linked to beliefs, and attitudes. Individuals affected by this type of abuse present with drastic changes in behaviour or personality, anxiety, demotivation, poor performance, excessive control by others, self-isolation which cannot be justified, confrontational and argumentative behaviours, truancy or absence from work, attempts to escape their ordeal, self-harm, depression, substance or alcohol use disorders, suicidal ideation, and/or actual bodily harm (ABH). Furthermore, individuals at risk of honour-based abuse include those who have relatives who have been forced into early marriage, and those who come from cultures where honour-based abuse is perceived as normal. Countries flagged as risky when it comes to this type of abuse include Turkey, Kurdistan, Afghanistan, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South and Eastern Europe, and traveller communities. This means that people from these cultures are particularly at risk of being abused.
Digital Domestic Abuse
Digital domestic abuse entails harassment, bullying, and/or stalking through an online platform, and/or the restriction of someone from accessing technology. Individuals affected by digital domestic abuse present with an excessive number of texts/calls, appear visibly upset or distressed after texts/calls, online attacks against their integrity, and online embarrassing media involving them. Furthermore, individuals who are being coercively controlled through technology present with a monitored access to social media, emails, and/or the internet by their perpetrators, signs that others have access to their personal digital accounts, a controlled access to technology by the perpetrators, a recurrent pattern of asking for permission from their perpetrator before connecting digitally with the people in their lives, an excessive guardedness about what is said in emails or other digital platforms, and/or a recurrent pattern of borrowing other people’s technology for access to the internet. Moreover, an individual can be both abused digitally, and also face to face, with punishments, reprimands and other negative consequences used by the perpetrator to intimidate the victim into obeying.
Every person’s perception of what constitutes abuse is different. Some victims stay and accept their predilection, whilst others fight and/or leave. Some victims succeed in leaving, whilst others are killed in the process. Domestic abuse has statutory definitions that give an objective scope which applies to everyone in the jurisdiction, whether they have insight into their realities or not. According to the Crown Prosecution Service (n.d.), domestic abuse can be defined as ‘any incident of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of their gender or sexuality’. This short definition has it within its scope that domestic abuse is something that happens in everyday life.
Domestic abuse does not always entail physical violence. Psychological abuse has been hypernormalised in our societies, and every day forms of sadism are quite common and ingrained in policies and procedures. Furthermore, domestic abuse is relevant to the police, and thinking that it should stay behind closed doors is another misconception. Domestic abuse happens all the time, everywhere, and thinking that it is rare is another misconception. Domestic abuse is not always a crime of passion, and sometimes it is slow, prolonged and premeditated. Thinking that domestic abuse is always a loss of control is a misconception. Disagreements are not equivalent to abuse. Whilst disagreements are normal, abuse is not normal. Moreover, thinking that domestic abuse is only perpetuated by strangers is another major misconception. Finally, domestic abuse happens to all groups and classes of society. Assuming that it only happens to poor people is another misconception.
Globally, the United Nations (n.d) defined domestic abuse as ‘a pattern of behaviour in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It can occur within a range of relationships including couples who are married, living together or dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels’. Based on this definition, it can be said that domestic abuse is a form of sadism, as the latter is all about the subjugation of the victim.
Locally, the Devon & Cornwall Police (2020) define domestic abuse as ‘the misuse of power and control by one person over another. This controlling behaviour may be exerted in various ways, such as through physical violence, emotional and/or psychological manipulation, forcing sexual acts or taking over your finances. It can begin at any time, can be obvious or subtle and can happen suddenly or gradually. It can happen to anyone regardless of class, age, race, religion, culture, disability, sexual orientation or lifestyle’. Based on this definition, it can be said that those who engage in domestic abuse are also engaging in sadistic behaviour.
There are some misconceptions about victims of domestic abuse, such as believing that the victim wants to be abused because they are not able to leave the relationship, that the victim should leave the relationship if they want help from statutory services, that the victim is at fault for the criminogenic behaviours of their abuser, that only women are victims of domestic abuse, that women lie about their abuse, that some people/women are attracted to abusive people/men, and that some people like the violence in their relationship (e.g. rough sex defence). For instance, the Home Office (2022) published a policy paper explicitly stating that ‘consent to serious harm for sexual gratification’ is not a defence. Justice Minister Alex Chalk is cited saying ‘No death or other serious injury – whatever the circumstances – should be defended as ‘rough sex gone wrong’ which is why we are making it absolutely clear that this is never acceptable. Perpetrators of these crimes should be under no illusions – their actions will never be justifiable in any way, and they will be pursued rigorously through the courts to seek justice for victims and their families’. This means that even if a person consents to rough sex, if their partner abuses them to the point actual bodily harm (ABH), then this is by law a crime. This will give women more clarity on what constitutes appropriate touch, sex, and when to identify abuse and report abuse. Furthemrore, Keir Starmer (2013) published an article on The Guardian stating that false allegations of rape and domestic violence were rare. This shows the importance of taking all allegations seriously.
What’s more, there are also misconceptions about the perpetrator such as believing that alcohol and drugs excuse such behaviours, that their abusive childhoods justify their behaviours, that mental health problems excuse domestic abuse, that they only attack because they are stressed out, that it is only a loss of temper on the abuser’s part, that just because they engage in domestic abuse does not mean they are bad parents (such as a father who abuses a mother and a child witnesses it), and that all abusers are men.
The National Office for Statistics (ONS; 2021a) reported in November that domestic abuse as recorded by the police in England and Wales rose by 6%. There were 845, 734 events. There were 33 arrests per 100 cases. Yet, even though these rates increased, referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decreased by 3%. Furthermore, convictions decreased by 70%. This shocking evidence proves that even though the problem is increasing, the UK state apparatus is dealing less and less with the problem. The ONS (2021b) reports that 37.7% of offences were of violence against the person, and 18.8% of offences were of sexual nature. 72.3% of victims of violence were female whilst 27.7% were male, and 93.4% of victims of sexual offences were female, whilst only 6.6% were male. This shows that the issue of violence against women in England and Wales is far from being resolved.
Moreover, moving more locally, the ONS (2021b) reports that there were 20,905 crimes of domestic abuse reported to the Devon & Cornwall police in the year ending 2021. This accounted for a 23.1% of total recorded crime. This saw a significant longitudinal increase in domestic abuse related crime from previous years. It went from 13.8% in the year ending in 2016 to 23.1% in 2021, increasing by over 9% in the past 5 years. There were 16, 464 offences of violence against the person, accounting for 41.1% of domestic abuse related crimes. This also saw a significant increase in the past few years.
There are four aspects that influence perceptions of domestic abuse: (1) the media, which often distorts information by not always identifying incidents of domestic abuse, sensationalising the reality of more subtle abuse and only focusing on more violent crime. Furthermore, the media also downplays the role of the perpetrator and sometimes attributes responsibility to the victim suggesting that the perpetrator was triggered. Moreover, because we live in a patriarchal world, the media sometimes covers more stories of violence against men, even though violence against women is most common. Finally, the media also sensationalises class, making it look like domestic abuse only happens in poor families; (2) religion, which has sets of dysfunctional beliefs which reinforce abusive practice such as the idea that honour-based abuse or forced marriage is acceptable, that women are inferior and should be submissive to men, that men as family heads should take disciplinary action at home against the rest of the family, that divorce is wrong, and that homosexuality is a sin; (3) culture, which has social norms that directly impact on perceptions of domestic abuse such as the ideas that men should assert power over women because they are ‘superior’, that the restriction of women’s movements/activities is acceptable, that women should accept physical violence as a method for conflict resolution, that women are responsible for the marriage working, that domestic abuse should never be spoken about (i.e. making it a taboo topic), that anyone who wants divorce should be ashamed of themselves, that brides should be bought and exchanged as if they were cattle (e.g. Iraq), that honour is dependent on female sexual behaviour, and that traditions such as forced marriage and female genital mutilation are normal; and (4) personal experience which influences perceptions of relationships, especially when people have lived experience in domestic abuse. Depending on their level of insight, some may fully reject abusive behaviour whilst others might accept it as a normal part of life.
Did you know…
The Matrimonial Causes Act (1978) made it possible for women to be legally separated from their abusive husbands, and the Domestic Violence and Matrimonial Proceedings Act (1976) enabled women to apply for court orders against their abusive husbands. In 1985, there were laws against female genital mutilation. In 1994 rape became illegal within a marriage, and in 2004 common assault became an arrestable offence. Police stations created dedicated Domestic Violence Units with specialist staff in the late 80s and early 90s. Moreover, the Protection from Harassment Act (1997) implemented measures against stalking and threats of violence, and the Domestic Violence, Crime, and Victims Act (2004) made stricter sentences so couples of the same sex could also apply for injunctions. In 2002, children were allowed to be removed from the home if they were witnesses of domestic abuse. In 2014, Clare’s law (named after Clare Wood) allowed the police to give details to potential victims of their partner’s abusive history in order to prevent abuse. In 2015 coercive control and revenge porn became illegal, and finally, the Domestic Abuse Act (2021) created a statutory definition of domestic abuse.
Blogs are a great way to express your voice. Even if your experiences have made you feel silent, oppressed, and unfairly treated at an intergroup relational context; you can still assert your thoughts, feelings and opinions in the online community. This way, blogging can be a method for cognitive-emotional democratic healing at both individual and collective levels.
Why is expressing your voice important?
Actions and reactions happen at inter and intra group levels for many reasons. Sometimes communicating our perspective helps elucidate a particular situation. So for instance, if you feel that some members of your social milieu have displayed hostility towards you as a result of the hostility that they themselves have been subjected to, you might be correct in assuming that such a hostility might have become hypernormalised at the group’s cultural level, and that such members are experiencing reactive-formative symptoms of trauma. For the minority individual, the experience of being let down, or rejected by a group, culture, system, or apparatus can be debilitating (i.e. it can feel like mob behaviour), and when this happens for a prolonged period of time; it can create feelings of marginalised frustration. Blogging is a good way to use your freedom of speech in a way that directly addresses the public audience, whilst simultaneously being an interpersonal method for expression.
The risk is to stay silent.
Setting up a blog
There are different ways in which you can begin your blog. The most common problem I hear when I speak with people about blogging is ‘I do not not what to say. I would not know where to start’. My answer is that such is precisely the way to start a blog. You do not need to know what to write about in order to express that you do not know what to write about. Sometimes it could be sharing your professional work. Other times it could just be about sharing an experience you went through. I tend to shift between these modes. Most of the time, I share some of my thoughts, feelings, and add something interesting that I have been researching about. Regardless of what your needs for expression are, blogging is an effective method for online communication and an interdisciplinary style for socialisation. But, what blog to use?
Choosing a blogging platform
Different people will prefer different types of blogs for their journalism depending on how much time or effort they wish to invest in the endeavour. Here are a few options:
Blogger: A very simple and generic user experience design for expressing thoughts. It has an archive of dates which store your thoughts across time. The interface is easy to learn, and it is free of charge. It is ideal for those only getting started in cybercultural activities.
Google Sites: This platform truly is flexible in terms of allowing the user to experience freedom in how to structure their pages. It is useful for creative projects and for getting started with digital design. It lacks an automatic blogging archive, so if what you are looking for is a place to log your thoughts, Blogger is a better option. All you need is a Google account.
WordPress: This blog (as you can see at the bottom of the page) is powered by WordPress. The reason why I personally prefer this platform is because it gives me a wide margin of flexibility when it comes to design, as well as simultaneously having an archive for blog posts which permits organization.
Medium: For those who do not wish to either hassle neither with the design nor with the other technicalities, Medium allows people to register and write. It is a community project, meaning that people from all walks of life contribute to the discussion.