Re: Question about severe emotional distburbance/mental illness incohousing
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Sun, 14 Dec 2008 06:17:12 -0800 (PST)
Cecile <seaseal [at]>
is the author of the message below.  It was posted by
Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
after restoring digest subject line.
--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------

Lee Collins wrote:
> If he is mentally ill...they may not be able to protect him or
> anyone else from the consequences of his behavior. The same applies
> to addictive behavior. What a helpless feeling! Either way the
> process of accepting this and letting go is long and painful.

I'd like to respond to this part of the many thoughts on mental
illness in this discussion. First, I don't think "letting go" is a
sustainable response to what people have said about the youth (I'm
going to choose to speak about both girls and boys) in a cohousing
community. Members have so much more to offer than anger and blame.

The youth is caught in a whirlwind of activities that all point to
self-medicating. This is an indication of a chemical imbalance in the

This behavior is currently dealt with mostly by prescription
medications (which are especially dangerous to youth) or by "letting
go" to let someone or something else (a drug) handle it. The police
are rarely trained to deal with illness.

In the middle of the reaction spectrum are treatments such as a
careful analysis of the youth's nutritional practices and
remediations such as supervised stays where nutrients are
administered until the balance is restored. (Joan Matthews Larson has
such a clinic in MN.

Cohousing residents can take other actions that support and help such
as massage and other bodywork and physical exercise such as hikes or
aquatic aerobics. These relieve some of the physical symptoms and
pain that result from poor nutrition. Acupuncture and acupressure are
wonderful responses too. The chemical imbalance can be fixed. This is
important to know. The correct information is necessary however.

Encourage the feuding cohousing residents to invite a range of
speakers to group meetings. Only getting one perspective is not
enough (but you know this already, eh?) This will provide support in
this community / village child-rearing. If the anger and fear are
dealt with, the youth can be supported. The pain and other physical
symptoms will disappear and the behavior will become acceptable.

People with diagnosed mental illness will recover when these four
areas are available:
? a secure place to live
? a valued presence in the community (skills, talents, work)
? support from family
? support from the community.

These four things are take from a book titled Toxic Psychiatry. I
recommend reading that book before any prescribed medications are used.

Mental illness is the last civil rights issue. Shadows of stigma and
discrimination follow the term. The parents and youth are shamed and
blamed instead of supported and nurtured.

Cohousing is the very best place to do something positive and
sustainable for this youth, for the residents, and for the
parents...before it's too late. It will make the entire community

seaseal [at]

Experience is a wonderful thing. It
enables you to recognize a mistake
when you make it again.

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