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Wonderful historical perspective of mental illness
|Posted By: Terry Palardy on December 5, 2014|
|Thank you, Peter. After studying Vygotsky and his follower Piaget, I became a teacher of students with moderate special needs: short term memory failures, auditory processing weaknesses, language based learning disabilities and the like. Working with them in a small group of dissimilarly-disabled youngsters, we all grew in understanding and empathy vs. recognition and pity. Later in life I was able to accompany my parents on their journey through elder conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's related 'dementia' (which is another disturbing, disabling label.) I watched and helped as they seemed to regress back and lose ground through all of the developmental milestones my students had worked daily with me to achieve. And now, it is my turn to follow a parallel path to my parents'; chronic anxiety and depression have biological roots in the demyelination of my central nervous system due to multiple sclerosis. But I am experiencing my changes in a new century, one that has been bettered by activists like yourself, and teachers who worked alongside me with the younger generation. While some true empathy has yet to be cultivated, we have prepared the ground, and our young students and their friends will continue to nurture the acceptance so necessary for their own growth. I believe that with this generation will become the beginnings of a harvest of compassion, empathy and support.|
In Rabbi Kushner's book, I read of a conversation with psychologist Carl Rogers, who is quoted as saying, and I'll paraphrase here because I can no longer quote accurately: "I am not perfect. I am human. Human's are not perfect. If we were, we would have no faults of our own that would allow us to understand and help others overcome their own failings. I am not perfect. But I am enough."
Life lessons are learned by those who are ready to accept their own faults, and empathize with others facing their own.