The title of this blog allows me to self-identify with a movie that proposes those diagnosed with a mental illness are not really medically ill at all. The thesis of the movie is that our struggles with life are not unusual nor are they abnormal. In fact, when pressed further, it’s those folks that do not feel sick at the modern project who may be ill.
The movie condenses the experiences of several people who had a diagnosis of a mental illness but didn’t respond to the “medications” they were prescribed. After months or years of struggling to conform to the “ideal” of what “normal” people look like, the people featured in the movie realized that they were going through a spiritual crisis, gave up their meds, and wrapped themselves in a loving community where they found healing by being themselves.
I’m not a relativist. I don’t buy into some of the things the movie seems to propose, but the underlying thesis needs to be examined closely.
What is the Coalmine?
I interpret the Coalmine as modern society. The relative number of “mad” or “insane” or “mentally ill” people in the world has steadily increased for a few centuries. The coal mine is a type of modern society that has abstracted itself from nature and promoted an industrialized, technological model for society that is truly sick. More about that elsewhere.
Why am I a Canary?
As of this post, I can’t answer that question definitively. The best that I can offer is that it’s somehow part of God’s plan that some folks just don’t “fit in” and I’m one of them. Since I was small, I’ve seen the world differently than most. I see things in terms of human and divine relationships. I’ve always had a deep spirituality (along with my deep religion) and when I try to “conform” to what I identify as the modern project, I show signs of being clinical.
Why is this Movie Hopeful?
This movie is the first project that I’ve seen that shows other people with a diagnosed mental illness are not sick. While I don’t agree with some of the choices made by participants in the movie, I find hope in the movie’s articulation of the radical notion that those who are identified by their families and the medical community as “sick” or “ill” or whatever are, in fact, in a spiritual crisis.
I’m going to this movie again tonight and on Wednesday so that I can participate in the discussion and see what other people have experienced. I’m also beginning research on the “Hearing Voices Movement”, an international support system for those who have experienced what medical professionals call visual and auditory hallucinations. I’ll be posting updates here in the future.
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