When I think of the exact moment when Oedipus stabbed out his eyes, I simply cannot think of him as being strong of my mind, but of being mentally ill.Dream of: 21 December 1985 "Strength Of Mind"
My father and my mother had been having a dispute and I had become involved in it, siding with my mother. My father had then gone to the Mental Illness Court and filed an application to have my maternal grandmother Leacy committed to a mental hospital. I, in retaliation, had then filed to have my paternal grandmother Mabel committed. My father then filed to have me committed.
Hearings were immediately set at the mental illness court and I found myself in the court room, quite indignant about the whole situation (I was just wearing a white tee shirt and I wished I had had time to put on a shirt). About five cases were going to be heard and a panel of four people had been chosen to decide the outcome of each case. My case was scheduled to be heard to determine whether I was suffering from a mental illness. I began thinking about how I was going to handle the situation. I knew in these hearings a person couldn't be committed to a mental institute for more than 90 days.
I hadn't yet been examined by a medical doctor and unless I waived the examination, it would be necessary for two certificates of medical examination to be made before I could be tried. I contemplated whether I should demand that medical examinations take place or whether I should demand the trial right now. I felt that if I were examined, the doctors would conclude I had no mental illness, and that the case would be dismissed. However, if I chose to be examined, I would have to wait a couple more days before I could be examined and released.
If I decided to waive the examinations and be tried immediately, and if I could adequately demonstrate by my testimony that I didn't suffer from a mental illness and that the application had been maliciously filed against me, I would be released immediately. Feeling as if I could prevail at a hearing, I decided to demand a hearing be held right now. The five files were brought out and I put mine in front so I would go first.
I also wanted to defend both Leacy and Mabel. I knew neither of them was mentally ill and I regretted my having filed the application against Mabel. I questioned the wisdom of a system which allowed applications to be filed so easily by just one person to have another person committed.
Channell (a Dallas mental illness judge) was the judge. I thought since I had just worked with him a week earlier when I had been appointed by the court as attorney to represent a number of indigent proposed mental illness patients, he would surely know I wasn't mentally ill and he wouldn't have me committed.
The first proposed patient was brought in. I was surprised to see that she was Frieda (a Dallas attorney). She looked as if she were about 40 years old. She was very overweight and was rather short. I knew she likewise had been appointed the previous week to defend proposed mental illness patients. Apparently now someone had filed an application against her.
She began giving testimony and apologized for the way she had handled her mental illness cases the previous week. She said she now realized she hadn't devoted enough time to each case and she also realized, since she herself was now on trial, how important the matter was to each person.
The next case was against the warden of a mental illness institute. He likewise was obviously not mentally ill and I imagined that probably a relative of one of the patients in his institute had filed an application against him. I figured the patients themselves wouldn't have been allowed to file applications.
I decided I was simply going to represent myself – I didn't want another attorney. If I wanted, I could drag the trial on for weeks with character witnesses. I then noticed Nina Cahan (a Dallas friend) pass the door in the hall. I thought she might be able to testify on my behalf; since she was a medical doctor, she would be a good witness.
I thought about mental illness and I wondered exactly what it meant. I concluded that more than anything, mental illness involved the strength of the mind. I thought of myself: my mind was indeed quite strong, perhaps even stronger than I sometimes gave myself credit for.
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