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Depression and/or oppression: Bisexuality and mental health
Transcript of Depression and/or oppression: Bisexuality and mental health
Internal (either way it is down to you) Either
I'm ill – need help – not my fault
I'm not ill – don't get help – is my fault Problem 1 Problem 2 Problem 4 Problem 3 Barker, M., Vossler, A. & Langdridge, D. (2010). Understanding counselling & psychotherapy. London: Sage.
Barker, M., Richards, C., Jones, R., Bowes-Catton, H., & Plowman, T. (2012). The Bisexuality Report: Bisexual inclusion in LGBT equality and diversity. Milton Keynes: The Open University, Centre for Citizenship, Identity and Governance.
Barker, M. (2013). Rewriting the rules: An integrative guide to love, sex and relationships. London: Routledge.
Barker, M. (forthcoming, 2013). Mindful Counselling & Psychotherapy: Practising Mindfully Across Approaches and Issues. London: Sage.
Barker, M. & Heckert, J. (2011). Privilege & Oppression, Conflict & Compassion. The Sociological Imagination.
Gilbert, P. (2010). The compassionate mind. London: Constable. References Bisexuality Reminds us of the social element Opens up alternative understandings Challenges Potential ways forward Resistance Compassion Double bind: Something wrong with us or to blame
Each continues to haunt the other (being 'found out', being exposed as 'unwell') Both options internalise problems (bio or psycho)
Evidence that biopsychosocial (eg neuroplasticity) damaging to internalise what is external Internal focus detracts from social context
E.g. self-monitoring culture -> self-criticism (major component of most MH issues) Universal understanding of MH issues fails to allow for multiple meanings (e.g. of sadness, self-harm, compulsion, etc.) Main finding of bi report - higher rates of MH problems / distress in bi people than heterosexual, or LG
Due to marginalisation in general (higher for other marginalised groups & marginalisations intersect)
& to invisibility in particular (key element of biphobia)
Emotional work of challenging/remaining hidden
Therefore we need to question internal understandings Rostosky et al., Barker, Eisner - positive aspects of what bis offer, cautious of emphasising victim narratives Alternative understandings of selfhood, can be:
Multiple (like challenge to attraction to one gender)
Fluid (like challenge that sexuality stable over time) Move away from fixed, static self of common understanding Common understandings of MH also common in bi (& LGBTQ) communities (can't step outside of culture)
Dividing lines between ill/healthy (us/them)
Disempowering/fixing the 'ill'
Silencing/overburdening the 'healthy' "Understanding marginality as position and place of resistance is crucial for oppressed, exploited, colonized people. If we only view the margin as sign, marking the condition of our pain and deprivation, then a certain hopelessness and despair, a deep nihilism penetrates in a destructive way the very ground of our being."
(bell hooks, 'marginality as site of resistance') Increasing bi visibility
Affective activism (Ahmed, Johnson)
Mindful bi furiosity (where it is aimed, what impact it can have, how it will be heard) Effective in combating most MH problems because shift from self-criticism & defensive response to threat into compassion & soothing. Self & other compassion reinforce each other.
Important on community level also - increasing solidarity where we share, and compassion where there is difference (always both).
E.g. need for compassion in common conversations:
Hierarchies of LGBTQ, and bisexuality
Treatment of organisers (us & them) - bi appreciation!
Privilege (see Barker & Heckert) balance