This is My Truth, Tell Me Yours.

"There are three sides to every story: my side, your side and the truth. And no one is lying."
 Robert Evans, "The Kid Stays in the Picture".
It just struck me that most of the posts on this blog are simply "my side" of a long and protracted story. The story of how I became unwell. The story of what I felt was mistreatment at the hands of some in mental health services. The story of my own experience of stigma, and of course how this impacts on others in the same situation. And in my last post, there was a little bit of politics, which has been the subject now of quite a few of my blogs. The thing is, all this is from one perspective. My own. And, as Robert Evans, Hollywood producer, attests above, there may not be only one, but three sides to every story. So, what struck me most was the question, am I an unreliable narrator?
I try to make this blog, particularly in terms of mental illness, as factually accurate as I can, but there are some things which appear to go beyond the realms of fact and into the realm of opinion. The argument, for example, over whether the label of "schizophrenia" should be abolished, or the argument over whether schizophrenia, as an organic brain condition, actually exists. I think I have tried, in my blogs, to put both sides of such arguments, but as far as "the truth" about such things goes, it is often hard to tell. There seem to be facts and statistics which back up both sides of such controversies. So, as a narrator of these things, I try to remain objective where I can.
Further to this, though, I am beginning to find that "the truth" in our society in general is difficult to decipher. The French philosopher, Roland Barthes, in his book "Mythologies", suggested that our world is made up of signs and representations which, rather than illuminating, seem to obscure the truth. Barthes' arguments, to my mind, were extremely prescient, perhaps being a forerunner to later postmodern theory which described modern, capitalist, media-saturated societies, where "representations" of reality actually begin to form the basis of reality itself. In postmodernism, the TV screen, the advertisement, or the Internet, become the foundation of the "real". In such an environment, then, how do we begin to decipher "truth"?
Well, Barthes remarked that one has to keep a certain distance from society if one is to analyse it. He believed that the "demythologiser", or seeker of truth, must remain, to a certain degree, an outsider to his own culture. But, even then, he feared, the "demythologiser" may have a mythology of his own.
As if to augment my own worries, it was recently stated on our local news that, increasingly, children of school age are beginning to believe in conspiracy theories, such as that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an "inside job", so to speak, or that Osama Bin Laden is still alive. This has been put down to the fact that more people now have access to the Internet, indeed the most democratic of mediums, but also open to misrepresentations due to a lack of regulation. Now, some are even suggesting that school children be educated in how to weed out truth from fiction in such an environment.
So, the truth, at least in our world, may be hard to find. And, in the end, all I can say of this blog is that this is, at least, my truth, why not tell me yours?


bazza said…
Hello David. In the end we can only tell our own truths can't we? Everything that happened to us in our lives has influenced us and shaped our thoughts.
I find the trouble with Barthes's semiotics is that he only seemed to apply it to the bourgeoisie but, in reality all cultures propagate their own myths.
Anyway, that thought is a bit heavy for this time of night so I wish you a good weekend.
Regards, Bazza.
klahanie said…
Dear David,
You try to write your truth with total transparency. That's what I like to read. And my truth is that's what I endeavour to do.
All the best and it was a delight listening to your words of wisdom on the phone.
David said…
Dear bazza,
Yes, Barthes' analysis does seem to have some bias. As he said himself, the demythologiser may have a mythology of his own, and Barthes own seems to come from something of a Marxist bent, a political engagement which he seemed to later forgo for a more purely "aeshetic" analysis. But even then, saying that "a little formalism takes one away from history, a lot brings one back to it", would seem to suggest that even trying to look at things from a purely aesthetic perspective does not make us free of certain value judgements. In the end, as you say, we can only tell our own truths.
But, thanks for reading, bazza, amd sorry to have burdened you with such "heavy" thoughts.
Hope you have a good weekend too.
Best Wishes,
David said…
Dear Gary,
I know you and I share a common aim in our blogs- to be transparent about ourselves and our experience of mental ill health to try to show that there is more to us all than simply a diagnosis. And I enjoy reading all your funny, insightful posts.
I was also delighted to hear from you via the telephone earlier, when we exchanged our various hippy philosophies!
Have a good one, Gary.
Best Wishes,
The Manic Chef said…
AS usual very thought provoking, I guess I'm beginning to sound like a broken record....I digress. Truth, or someone's version of "truth" can be very tricky to discern. But having experienced others version of truth has revealed their 'denial' of reality and what truth represents. Persons who want you to believe their truth tend to use force, anger, threats to enforce their reality, which is not reality at all but lies. This I have come to know due to my own life experiences.
Now regarding children and "conspiracies", well let me just state, I am one that does believe that 9/11 was orchestrated by the US government and the forces that be, and that to try and regulate the internet against such beliefs, reeks of the forces that be to snuff out the logical and practical reasons for such beliefs due to facts that relate to that fateful day. To try and "regulate" the truth concerning such issues is another form of tyrannical reasoning. The use of force is at play, and that is censorship. When someone truly believes they stand for truth, they will never punish anyone that goes against them, they will patiently endure to the end. Great posting. Later...
David said…
Dear Manic Chef,
Thanks once again for your thoughts.
I agree very much with what you say about your own life expereinces. I feel sometimes myself, having been on the receiving end of some pretty nasty stuff (although not in the same league as your own) due to being unwell, that some people's versions of "the truth" about who we are, is very much as you say.
As for your other comments, although I don't agree with your belief about 9/11, I think you are right to have the right to express it. In a free society this is very much something we should defend, and I am reminded of a saying from Voltaire- "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".
With Very Best Wishes,

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