Nurse Jackie and Stuff

Before you read this, listen to a couple of minutes from this position of the “US and Them” podcast episode “Heroin I – N’ganga Dimitri” from March 22: beginning at minute 27.37 when Dimitri talks about why addicts are his favorite people. It’s a real perspective shifter and frankly I feel a little bit of a recognition of some of what he is talking about. My favorite people are often the vulnerable, the incarcerated, the messed up etc. and it really isn’t because of morbid fascination or some kind of pathological interest in distraction like it might have been when I was younger. I think it is a mixture of my desire to reach into humanity where the rubber really meets the road on the one hand (in the midst of humanity’s trouble in other words) and a kind of recognition of the way in which people are not what they are cracked up to be. The troubled or pathologised are often people who have beautiful a great and uncommon gift or sensitivities that go un-appreciated or sometimes untapped and the people “in good standing” out there are often not so decent when it comes down to it. You have to find their closets or talk to their spouses. The people who “are troubled” in other words simply have troubles we know about (and often gifts that we DON’T know about) and the “well” might not actually be doing as well as they seem. With the troubled you have an in – they are often able to get to a place of beginnings, of reaching out, of receptivity more easily than people who have much to loose.

So I had to collect a couple of clips from my new favorite show – Nurse Jackie. This show was very challenging for me because it involves a lead character who lies, cheats, manipulates and commits adultery. Watching it makes me cringe- especially the adultery stuff. I am repelled by the main character of the show in a lot of ways – but also fascinated. I wondered if it was a guilty pleasure or if the show had some substance (a little of both?).

In any case, I collected two video clips here that I was very fascinated by:

  • In one clip the main character intervenes on behalf of a waitress who is being persecuted in a manner that employs her powers of manipulation, lying and power-politics for the forces of good. This totally fascinates me because it makes me realize that she has some characteristics that are not only admirable but very enviable if they can be used for the right reason and that these characteristics are the same ones that make her an accomplished addict and adulterer. Did I mention the show is challenging for me? Really interesting stuff.
  • in the other clip, on a somewhat similar note you see how one of her daughters – the troubled one shows how her tremendous sensitivity towards a really good end in cheering up her little sister. This same sensitivity which has caused her to engage in ripping her hair out and morbidly obsessing over dangers and worries too maniacally for a well adjusted adult – much less a child – makes her an uncommonly skillful sister at times. It’s a beautiful insight.

This all reminds me a lot of the “Exploring the Disease Model” episode of my favorite podcast, ShrinkRapRadio. Here is a link to the episode number 503: in which a professor of clinical psych. makes a compelling case for de-pathologizing our view of the troubled people psychologists serve.

  • In the same podcast episode from about minute 44 he gives an excellent example of how we often have a backwards view of peoples strengths and weaknesses in the way we pathologize folks in the world of psychology. Really one should listen to the whole episode and while I don’t automatically agree with all his opinions (I reserve judgment and have some questions) I find his perspective generally deeply illuminating and thought provoking.

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