No fault; no blame

It’s a fine Spring afternoon; I’m sitting at my desk writing, and a memory of my early encounter with a profound message rises: Somehow, somewhere, back in 1992, I believe – I found my first NAMI Dane County newsletter. That’s not important. What is important was the written message it contained.

I believe it was the newsletter’s “From the President’s Desk” column that encouraged me to learn more about NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness). The column reflected an understanding of biologically based mental illness that I had not found before, and an understanding, not only of my illness experience, but more importantly for me an understanding of my father’s illness and my family’s response to that illness. It was a strong “no fault, no blame” grasp of the fundamentals of daily life with a serious disorder.

It was clear to me that the column’s author and others in NAMI knew and believed without question the conclusion that I had just encountered: The only way to view mental illnesses and brain disorders is without applying blame or fault.  Not to families.  Not to individuals.

One thought on “No fault; no blame

  1. Gail: I’m so glad you found that NAMI pamphlet that helped you to understand your own mental illness and then to so courageously begin to advocate for all people to better understand what having a mental illness meant to any individual and to their families,friends and other loved ones. I suspect that about this same time that at a family picnic at Dad and Mom’s is when you presented all of us with a petition to sign about encouraging state legislators to pass some bill that would fund some mental health program.
    I remember thinking that this represented a major change not only in your life but also in the lives of all the members of our respective families. As a family whom had experienced numerous traumatic and confusing psychological events involving our father it had always been extremely difficult to deal with these events and issues in any meaningful and lasting way. Usually we all avoided dealing with Dad’s problems until the next crisis. This avoidance was due because we were all fearful of his temperamental outbursts and quite honestly we didn’t have the courage or inclination to invest the time and effort to really understand all the aspects of his mental illness.
    In retrospect that particular step you took that day began a long and continuing journey for you and all of the Miller family to better understand all the myriad aspects of mental illness. We are all grateful to you for encouraging all of us to accompany you on this sojourn.
    Love – Your brother Ron

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