Friday, 8 June 2018

Writing Scripts

Have you ever been a scriptwriter?

Have you ever been a prescription writer?

Have you ever been both?

Writing scripts to address major policy issues is an urgently needed job.  But who will the audiences be?  Who will the funders be?  What sort of narrative is required?  What sort of characterisation will be most suitable?  What should be the tone?  What should be the emotional response of audiences?  What should be their political response?

People often make the mistake of believing that a person of their acquaintance behaves in the same way with other people.  Such a belief forgets or ignores the power dynamics of relationships.

It is also often forgotten that people known on a one-to-one basis do not necessarily behave the same when in group situations.  And people known in groups can behave quite differently when in the company of one person.

Groups containing narcissists can never be cohesive.  Those groups are unlikely to make well-informed decisions through consensus, or by any other means, until the narcissists are excluded.

Narcissists have caused unjustifiable marginalisation in many societies.  Narcissists breach boundaries.

Narcissists form hierarchies with themselves at the head.

Narcissists are domineering.

 Narcissists will not take "no" for an answer.

Narcissists mistake anxious displays of confused cheerfulness for agreement.

Narcissists have prejudices.  They have no proper respect for participatory decision-making.

The decision to exclude narcissistic behaviour facilitates a more enlightened awareness of choices.

When all remaining participants respect their own and each other's boundaries, there is less likelihood of too many choices arising, or too few.

Consensus-loving groups can effectively defend themselves against hierarchical outsiders through a decentralised approach to leadership.  Such a style of leadership can easily be taught in the 21st century, through digital means.

Co-operatively defending boundaries is a mutually beneficial act.  When breaches occur, collaborative measures to repel intruders can usually be identified through consensus.

Politely questioning intruders about their intentions is usually a good place to start.  Many intrusions are unintentional.  An over-reaction is never enlightened.  It may even be rude.

Most people prefer the dignity of independence to the demeaning experience of institutional coercion, or any other form of coercion for that matter.

People without empathy are often unaware of their own coerciveness.

The more complaints are received in relation to abuses, the more likely it is that improvements will occur, at least in theory.

In Australia, and probably in every other country, the funding of care services tends to be based on age even more than need.

In corrupt societies, much public money is spent on projects for which there is little or no public need while real needs are ignored.

There are many people with mental health problems, in every society, and in every age group.  Many of those mental health problems have been inadequately treated with effective therapies.

Most such problems are ignored by the people experiencing them, and by the health practitioners they contact.  In fact, it is likely that most health practitioners have mental health problems themselves from time to time.

What is mental health?  Can it be maintained through writing scripts?

What is empathy?  Can it be taught through the presentation of a script?

The people running residential facilities mainly for older people may have serious mental health issues of their own, and possibly serious financial issues and other issues in their private lives.

There may be significant intercultural conflicts in such facilities relating to personally acceptable and unacceptable interpersonal behaviour.

When an employee, contractor or volunteer has a different cultural attitude towards what is believed to be acceptable behaviour, and what is not, a person making a complaint about that behaviour may be unfairly accused of racism and/or sexism or another form of prejudice.  This prevents consistent standards of care from being supplied.

The misinterpretation of expected interpersonal standards does not necessarily equate with abusiveness.  Yet how should comprehension and expectations be measured and maintained?

People without the will to delay gratification of their own desires are a considerable problem in any society.  They quickly find themselves in difficult situations but are unwilling to blame themselves for the problems they face.

They ignore well-informed advice.

They are easily mislead by "too-good-to-be-true" promises.

Much abuse of elderly people in a family context occurs as a consequence of impatiently greedy relatives.  They usually have money problems they intend to fix by acquiring a bequest prior to probate.

There is an added problem when the legal capacity of an elderly person is difficult to ascertain.  This can make it difficult for a non-greedy person to protect the interests of a vulnerable, older person.

If you have an elderly parent who has long used medications excessively, including over-the-counter ones, the person's mental state may have become befuddled as a consequence of those drugs. 

If the person will not listen to reason about the detrimental consequences of over-medication, there is usually nothing you can do.  This is especially the case if the person is considered by medical practitioners to have the legal capacity to make their own decisions. 

The emotional toll of self harm, interpersonal abuse and legal confusion in Australia is considerable, as is the financial toll.

Abusive behaviour by the staff of facilities for older people is considerable.  Much abuse of elderly people in an institutional or commercial context occurs as a consequence of excessively ambitious managers and inadequately trained, qualified and supervised staff.

Institutional abuse towards the family members of vulnerable older persons is also widespread, especially in Australia.  This prevents cases of elder abuse from being properly investigated and acknowledged.

Whether in retirement villages, government departments, hospitals or nursing homes, or in any other organisation, there is no consistent process in place through which adequate measures are taken to ascertain the truth of a personal situation.  An abusive relative, and even a delusional elderly person, can quite easily tell deeply offensive lies about another individual, with no questions asked by the staff about the veracity of those claims. 

A person unjustly accused of wrongdoing may have no idea of the content of the accusations but will instead be treated with contempt by staff.

The accuser is likely to have told the lies to the vulnerable, elderly person, who believes the lie to be true about the other individual

When workers they take lies at face value and destroy the reputation, and relationship, and possibly the mental health, of the person unjustly accused, where is justice?

Yet until cultural attitudes change in society towards ruthless competitiveness, greed, aggression, unsubstantiated claims and unreasonable impulsiveness, no amount of complaining will prevent problems from arising in the future.  There is too much institutional complacency.  There is no political will to address the issues properly.

If you currently have an elderly relative in Australia, here are a few more questions to consider:

1. What have been the family problems you have encountered in relation to the care and support of elderly relatives?

2. Have you ever been falsely accused of something, but you are unsure of what has been said about you, by whom?

3. If you have been considering making a complaint to any organisation, but you have not yet done so, why is that?

4. What have been your experiences after doing all you could to support and protect an elderly relative only to have that process undermined by workers incapable of identifying the abuse you have been attempting to prevent?

5. Has your long-term caring role ever been usurped by someone for their own ends?

6. Has an Enduring Power of Attorney document and/or Advanced Care Directive document been changed suddenly to exclude you, for no justifiable reason?

7. Are you convinced the vulnerable, elderly person has been prevented from having contact with you for the ulterior motives of the accuser?

8. Do most of your concerns relate to inadequate or inappropriate communication?

9. Could simple changes in communications procedures within organisations make your life simpler, and possibly even make the provision of care much cheaper and fairer for everyone?

10. How do you respond to a bitter person who moans and complains all the time, and never laughs or sings or smiles and rarely, if ever, expresses genuine appreciation for anything?

11. Do you have a now-elderly parent like that?

12. How do you respond to someone who is cheerful most of the time but becomes irritable and abrupt when asked to face up to reality?

13. Do you have a now-elderly parent like that?

14. How do you respond when people you see on a regular basis complain you pay inadequate attention to them, even though you take them to medical appointments, help them to pay bills and have long supported them during the difficulties they have face, even though you have many challenges in your own life?

15. Do you have an ungrateful, now-elderly parent?

16. How do you respond to someone who has a narcissistic, vindictive and/or passive aggressive attitude towards most people, including you?

17. Do you have an emotionally abusive, now-elderly parent?

18. Do you have a sibling and/or in-law who has used your elderly parent's vulnerability to gain advantage at the expense of you and your parent?

19. Have you sought support against an abusive sibling and/or in-law only to find the law, in its current form, cannot help you?

20. Have you written a narrative account of your experiences, perhaps in a form suitable for performance on a stage or screen?

21. What is to be done at a political level, and will it occur quite soon?

22. What is the cost to the Australian economy when innocent relatives of abused elderly persons are forced into an impossible situation not of their own making and cannot therefore focus on their other responsibilities?

23. What does it mean for trust within society if more and more people begin to realise they cannot trust their own relatives, let alone service providers?

24. How many older people in Australia have lost considerable weight mainly due to their overuse of self-prescribed laxatives?

25. How many family members and friends have entered bereavement with little or no proper support from the institution in which that bereavement began?

26. How exploitative is the funeral business in Australia, and what can be done to stop that exploitation?

27. How many older people have been exploited by financial institutions in Australia, and possibly lost their homes and life savings as a consequence of that exploitation?

28. How many older people, and their caring relatives, have been the victims of abuses by persons known to them, aided and abetted by financial institutions, retirement village operators, charities, aged care facilities, and even hospitals and government departments?

29. Has one of your relatives ever ended up in an emergency ward of a hospital and you have been unable to find out which hospital for several hours due to the first name and last name of your relative being transposed in the computer system?

30. Have you ever attempted to improve the training of aged care workers to ensure they understand mental health benefits and problems adequately?

31. How do you identify and report elder abuse, child abuse and other forms of abuse?

32. If you have never been a victim of crime, why is that?

33. If you have never suffered any form of abuse, why is that?

34. With considerable numbers of Australians in financial stress from excessive debts, for one reason or another, is the financial abuse of older people likely to become more prevalent in the years ahead?

35. What are you doing to stop elderly people from being abusive?

36. What are you doing to stop children from bullying each other?

36. How do you address sibling rivalries?

37. Changing cultures from aggressive, competitive ones to calmer, more co-operative ones, plays a central role in addressing the prevalence of malice.  But how is that to be achieved?

38. If you have zero tolerance of maliciousness, spite and other forms of malevolence, how do you convey that view to the perpetrators, and how do they respond?

39. Are you too fearful to confront perpetrators?

40. Are you feeling alone, unsupported and even abused?

41. Are you having difficulty coping with the situation you currently face?

42. Are there too many uncertainties in your life?

43. How do you address violence, aggression and abuse through the arts?

44. How do you help people feel adequately confident and adequately competent and adequately supported?

45. How do you address over-confidence in yourself and other people?

46. Are malicious people often either over-confident or lacking in confidence?  Do they mask their lack of self-confidence by appearing overly confident, or even by expressing aggression?

47. Is recklessness often a sign of mental health problems?

48. Have your dreams been turned into nightmares by someone behaving recklessly?

49. Are you still searching for a city of dreams in which to build a new, better, safer life?

50. How do your personal experiences fit into a larger story?

51. How can you build psychological resilience in the face of abuse, denial, disbelief and the distortion of truth?

52. How do you use privacy as a tool for psychological resilience?

53. How do you use the arts as tools for psychological resilience?

54. What have you discovered through the sciences to help you develop and deepen your psychological resilience in adverse situations?

55. How do you respond to psychologically manipulative people?

56. Has anyone ever told you that you are manipulative and/or controlling, or a bully?

57. Has anyone ever told you that you are rude, unfair or otherwise disrespectful?

58. Have you ever been unreasonably unco-operative with someone, or even a group of people?

59. Have you ever been unreasonably competitive with someone, or even a group of people?

60. And where is the research on the prevalence of malice in politics, in bureaucracies and in the media?

61. How do you tell the difference between justifiable redress and malicious punishment?

62. How do you tell the difference between malicious reporting, emotive reporting and quality reporting, whether in the media or through a government authority?

63. For many people, even the discussion of malice can be distressing.  There has often been a long history of distress in their lives.

64. Violence has many forms beyond the sexual and otherwise physical.  Abuse is often mental, emotional and/or financial.

65. How many times has your freedom been violated by abusiveness?

66. With so many young people and older people experiencing severe distress, the inclusive integration of support services should be a societal priority, but who is taking responsibility for that integration?

67. Why do so many sufferers feel isolated and unsupported?

68. Where are the integrated humanitarian resources at both a local and international level, when and where they are most needed?

69. How do you know you are not a narcissist?

70. How many years are you on one side of the age of seventy or the other?

For co-operation to be possible, in nature and in society, all participants must have sufficient knowledge, skills and resources for their mutual benefit.

Co-operation is essential whenever conflict is avoidable.

But what happens when it is not?

Drama interprets conflict.  How will you write a suitable script in relation to common but ignored scenarios?