chapter  1
Biometaphorical Psychiatry: Family Therapy and the Poetics of Experience
Pages 21

The way we act, the way we balance the complexities of freedom and responsibility, these depend on what answer we give to an ancient riddle, ‘What is man?’… A major difficulty is that the answer we give…is partly a product of the answers that we have already given to the riddle…. Kurt Vonnegut gives us wry advice-that we should be careful what we pretend because we become what we pretend. And something like that, some sort of self-fulfillment, occurs in all organizations and human cultures. What people presume to be “human” is what they build in as premises of their social arrangements, and what they build in is sure to be learned, is sure to become part of the character of those who participate (Bateson & Bateson, 1987). The extensive use of psychotropic medication in our culture has altered the language for talking about human experience and emotional pain in the clinical disciplines that attend to mental health. Altering language changes the consciousness of our culture and thereby limits alternatives for problem solving. The use of medications redefines symptoms by making an authoritative, nonverbal proclamation in a language that pretends there is no relation between the symptoms and interpersonal or subjective experience. The problem is placed inside the patient and is therefore assumed to be correctable by a medication.