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Part of my great rebalancing effort would be through sheer intimidation of other students whom I considered a threat or too upwardly mobile. I had a good eye for peoplewho were quick to climb the social ladder. I was honestly a bit jealous of these folks, given it was always such a struggle to move up at Wales. So I used brute intimidation tactics, small threats, and low level bullying to achieve my aim. which was to hoist myself up the rungs of the Wales social ladder.

I had recently discovered that when Binaca is sprayed in a person’s eyes, he or she is temporarily blinded and experiences quite a bit of stinging, but there were no long-term effects. This meant my new weapon could be used on the bus. I realized that if used on the bus to school, anyone blinded by Binaca would have their vision restored and the spray washed out of their eyeballs through tearing by the time we arrived at school.

This weapon would be used throughout the remainder of my junior year. Anytime Ian got too close to me after a barrage of name calling and insults. I sprayed Binaca in his eyes so he couldn’t swing his fist at me. This served me well. Because now I had a way of bullying him without fear of retribution. He simply couldn’t retaliate without incurring the Binaca eye irritant. I flung every insult in my arsenal by the end of my junior year at Wales Middle School on the school bus.

I was relentless, asking Ian rhetorical questions slanted as insults: “What’s it like being a fat retard?” to “what are you going to do? Eat me you fatass!,” which were more pointed than anything else. Ian’s attire grew more and more a reflection of what was happening to him. At first, he wore collared shirts, nothing too flamboyant or radically different than the rest of the students in our grade. By the end of the year however, Ian’s collared shirts took a backseat to military fatigues and other clothing a soldier would wear on base.

In the end, I used the Binaca on my own people. Friends, associates, and other supporters who continued to have my back at Wales would incur a blinding spray when I was disappointed or angry with their behavior. This had a strong disillusioning effect on anyone who was willing to stick by me for the long haul. I still believe it was tactics like this, used on my own friends, that sowed the seeds of rebellion and abandonment of my cause later on.

 

 

About the Author

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association.

Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia.

"I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others."

"In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."

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