Arbeit macht frei, or “Work will set you free”

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People often get confused when reading the title of this blog, “Mental Health Affairs,” but even more so, people see the tagline “The Final Solution” and get stuck. Sirens, red flags, and even bells go off.

I suspect this because the blog targets a vulnerable population. Readers have also read the site’s flagrantly fascist “Nazi” rhetoric.  There is nothing flagrant about how I go about things in the blog. The blog is purposeful and deliberate.

The most potent aspect of language is its ability to transform meaning. Take notice of how I make full use of the inherent instability and ‘play’ of language. The transformative metaphors are examples of this ‘play.

All these metaphors allow for new meaning. The result is a fundamentally changed understanding of history and politics, perhaps the humanities.

The gate to Auschwitz bears a now-widely familiar inscription: Arbeit Macht Frei, or “Work will set you free.”

The only way for people with severe mental illness to work towards recovery is to work constantly. I have experienced this first hand as a person in recovery living with a severe mental health disorder. I also experienced this as a clinician who has experience treating people with significant mental health disorders. 

Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister, talks about the enormity of the task ahead to win the war against the allies, called for Total War.

Mental Health Affairs now shifts from reclaiming to re-appropriating. Total recovery is the complete mobilization of your resources to maximize the potential for your gains in healing. To truly make gains when your bodies are pitted against death or risk of serious illness, there can pose no obstacle in your path to recovery. 

Mobilize all your resources to achieve your goals. Total health and healing, natural recovery means taking all the unknowns and revealing them as markers and meter sticks to measure our gains and decrease the risk of relapse.

The fascist lingo here at Mental Health Affairs shows that change talk is quite axiomatic and straightforward at its root. When people are complicit with inhuman care systems go without retribution, there can be no recourse.

About the Author

J. Peters

J. Peters is the Editor-in-Chief of Mental Health Affairs.

Award-winning book author and Bold 10 Under ten award recipient J. Peters, LCSW. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Mental health therapist and disability rights advocate Mr. Peters fights for those without a voice in various care systems, such as the New York City Department of Social Services, the New York State Office of Mental Health, or the city's Department of Corrections.

Mr. Peter's battle with Schizophrenia began at New London University in his last semester of college. Discharged from Greater Liberty State Hospital Center in July 2008, Jacque's recovery was swift but not painless and indeed brutal after spending six months there.

He has published several journal articles on recovery and mental health and three books: University on Watch, Small Fingernails, and Wales High School. He is also a board member of the newspaper City Voices. Mr. Peters currently sits on the CAB committee (Consumer Advisory Board) for the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene in NYC and the Office of Mental Health (OMH) as a peer advocate.

Owner of Recovery Now in New York, a private psychotherapy practice, Mr. Peter's approach is rooted in a foundation of evidence-based practices (EBP). Jacques earned a master's degree in Social Work from Binghamton University and worked as a field instructor for master's and bachelor's level students in NYC.

He is blogging daily on his site mentalhealthaffairs.blog, Mr. Peters regularly writes articles relating to his lived experience with a mental health diagnosis.

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