Home > Causes, Friday Fun!, Mental Illnesses and Disorders > Friday Fun! (Freelance Editing, Reading Projects, and United States of Tara)

Friday Fun! (Freelance Editing, Reading Projects, and United States of Tara)

Hello my lovely readers!  Gosh, things have been hopping here this January, haven’t they?  I’m not sure why my reading has reached such a nice, steady rhythm, but I’m certainly enjoying it. 🙂

A quick announcement.  I’ve decided to start freelance editing.  If you’re at all interested, please check out the dedicated page for more details.  You all know that I’m a trustworthy, hard-working, smart gal, so I’d also appreciate it tons if you’d help spread the news.  Thanks!

I was super-pleased at the extent of conversation and interaction that the first book for the Diet for a New America Reading Project saw.  Thanks guys!  Next month is The China Study, and I do hope as many of you as can will join in with me.  This book is very much less about the US specifically and more about the best diet for human beings in general based on a ground-breaking scientific study.

Tomorrow is the discussion of the penultimate book in The Real Help Reading Project–Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely.  It’s hard to believe the project is almost over!  Time flies when you’re learning and growing with a friend. 🙂

On Wednesday I was home sick, and you know how sometimes when you’re sick you just don’t have the focus to read.  I therefore poked around my Netflix account and was pleased to see that the final season of United States of Tara was finally up on instant.  The United States of Tara is a Showtime half-hour show about a woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) trying to learn to cope with her disease without creativity-numbing medications so she can be free again to pursue her art.  I was very pleased with the first two seasons that showed the reality of coping with a mental disease, but that did not demonize Tara or bestow sainthood upon her family members.  I thus was really disappointed to see the third season take such a nosedive, and now I’m thinking I’m going to have to remove it from my recommended list.

The thing that made US of Tara so appealing in the first two seasons was that, yes, sometimes Tara did bad things as the result of her illness, but she was fairly good at finding a balance.  She made mistakes like healthy people, just for different reasons.  In season three, though, Tara develops a new alter who is pure evil.  We’re talking stabby, Psycho sound effects, steals babies and tears her own teenage son’s room apart evil.  This alter is an abuser alter–an alter who takes on the whole personality of Tara’s abuser.  Now this is a real thing in DID (source) but the show handles it all wrong.  Yes, the new alter is scary and would be to all of the known alters, Tara, and her family.  However, having the alter kill all of Tara’s other alters then Tara kill the abuser alter is the exact opposite of how healthy healing from DID works.  Healthy healing is either learning to cope with having alters or integration.  Killing your alters and then proceeding to run off to therapy after the fact shrieks of writers who didn’t get their facts straight.  For a show that started off so strongly and well-supported by the Mental Illness Alliance community, I was really disappointed in this.

The other bad message in season three that really bothers me as an advocate is the change in Tara’s family and how they handle things.  Tara basically becomes too much for them to handle, and they all want to ship her off and lock her up.  Ok, some people do need in-patient treatment, and I definitely would have re-entered Tara into real therapy much sooner than her family does to prevent all this drama in the first place, but essentially the family comes to say that Tara isn’t worth it.  Tara is too much to handle.  They’re just gonna go do their thing now.  They even judge Max, Tara’s husband, for refusing to not continue to stick by her.  He insists repeatedly that he’s neither a stupid person nor a saint.  He just loves Tara.  Yet, in the end, the whole family is torn apart, leaving just Max and Tara.

While it is, unfortunately, very true that a lot of people abandon loved ones with a mental illness, one of the positive aspects of this show was that it let people with a mental illness believe that in an enlightened family unit, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Season three kills all that.  The only one who truly loves and advocates for Tara is Max, and everyone else feels pity for him because of it.  Sad stuff.  Definitely not advocate stuff.

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  1. January 27, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I’m disappointed to hear they got the facts so wrong on Tara. I enjoyed that show, but now I’m feeling doubtful about its portrayals.

    • January 27, 2012 at 10:06 am

      I admit I would be interested to see other people’s perspectives on the final season, but I was certainly disappointed.

  2. January 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Good luck with the freelance editing, and I eagerly look forward to the next Diet for a New America discussion 🙂

    • January 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      Thank you, Jessica! It’s certainly new territory, but I’m eager to start.

      I’m so glad you’re joining in on our Diet for a New America discussions as well. 🙂

  3. January 27, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Good luck with the editing! Very cool 🙂 Also, can’t believe project is almost over… it’s been fun!

    • January 27, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      Thanks, Amy! It’s been super-fun, but I think the best part has definitely been becoming friends. 🙂 I’m glad I had the balls to ask you to do the project with me, lol.

  4. January 27, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    I just started watching United States of Tara and have been completely sucked in. That new alter is interesting – I wonder if she was the one who ruined Tara’s mural in the first season? Sounds depressing though – I wonder how I’ll fear about the change. None of what you describes sounds at all unlikely in the course of a mental illness, and I’m not sure how I feel about being unendingly positive at the cost of honesty. To me it really depends on how it’s portrayed – are Tara’s abandoners shown as reasonable or just jerks? I guess I’ll see!

    • January 27, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      Definitely check back in when you’ve finished the show! I’m curious to see what you think. I do think it was difficult to be entirely clear on exactly *why* I felt like the finale was overly negative. I do think that having her abuser alter kill her other alters played into that more so than her family members giving up on her. I feel like I’m not making sense.

      That said, though, I do feel that having a “realistic” portrayal of how stigmatized and difficult mental illness is is left important than having something that encourages those with one that they can have a real life outside of a mental institution. If we decide the only “realistic” portrayal is one where their families abandon them and they are institutionalized then I am truly embittered and saddened on their behalf. I think a part of advocacy is that life can be happy and functional if not quite normal with proper treatment, expectations, and support. Something I think season one shows beautifully but season one destroys.

      All that said, watch it then come back or post about it! Lol. It’s easier to talk about something everyone has seen.

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