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Critical Psychology: A Therapy for the Victims of Government Abuse

Dec 31

Society (and the therapeutic community) is beginning to recognize, at “break-neck” speed, that we live in social systems that have the potential to control resources, employment, and wealth.  And that these systems (e.g. the RCMP) can become the perpetrators of large scale abuse that can result in the rise and persistence of the rule of the privileged.  Moreover, most of us rarely consider that beyond war, pollution, epidemics, and poverty these rigid social systems (e.g. RCMP “tradition”) imposed upon many, by a few, can contribute significantly to mental illness.  They have been implicated in depression, anxiety, substance abuse, sexual dysfunction, and obesity, to name only a few forms of psychological disorder that affects many millions around the world.

The root causes for these concerns are quite clear.  (I will narrow my focus here and zero in on a large government bureaucracy, like the RCMP for example). Working in a highly regulated bureaucracy like the RCMP,  with it having no union to protect individual members against a predatory system of governance (e.g. Bill C-42) often results in a membership that reflects the mental conditions more often associated with the wounded, exploited and bullied.  In addition, RCMP members are becoming tracked and observed through an increasing variety of computers, and cameras.  They have come to accept that being videotaped and/or monitored constantly has become part of the job.  Even though the public often benefits as a result of this intrusive technology, it is the start of a process of dehumanization that results in RCM policepersons becoming increasingly alienated from their individual natures; and contributes to members being reduced to nothing more than Regimental Numbers.

Mental (emotional) conditions, in your population, often result from being drawn into long protracted, and ugly litigation (many times for issues that could have been resolved, in a few days, by a labour union!). There are significant numbers of presently serving and retired RCMP members involved with the legal system and labour lawyers in an attempt to have their rights as “workers” either respected, protected, or compensated.

The emotional condition, noted above, can also derive from RCMP “disciplinary measures” (e.g. Bill C-42).  In addition, a psychological condition can originate in excessive work demands (e.g. understaffing, or worse “voluntary overtime”).  The member’s marriage may suffer as a result of the stress incurred in coping with the excessive demands of the “outfit”; and attempting, in addition, to balance the legal system, keeping up with friends, relatives and children.  The joy of life can be wrung out of the RCMP member like “water out of a dish cloth”.

The member’s ability to live a happy productive and full life is taken away each day by the parade of lawyers, judges, supervisors, RCMP executives at the Division and National levels, and government officials who enforce the rule of the privileged.  The process saps peace of mind and dignity; and once the member falls ill, he/she requires a healing process.  It is no secret (re-read Mr. Hartl’s “charge” against me, lodged with the BC College of Psychologists) that my approach to your emotional problems involves a systems (community, critical, contextual) approach contributed to, significantly, by your dysfunctional employer.  What then is the indicated therapeutic intervention?  The type of “illnesses” you generally suffer are best dealt with through radical and militant activism directed against the “cause” of the problem.  What do I allude to when I use terms like “radical activism” and “militant activism”?  (Keep in mind that you do work in what is defined as “an essential service”).  I mean that you as a member of the RCMP, and being a “worker”, have the “right” to picket, demonstrate, sit-in, organize public communications and, in general, engage in the type of behaviour that could transform your workplace, produce change, and put those RCMP Executives, who are more concerned with their own comfort than yours’, on the defensive.  Keep in mind that these “rights” will be more easily embraced when the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada is recognized, and (you become a member!). When you suffer by yourself, when you allow the RCMP Executive (whether Divisional or National) to abuse you without holding them accountable or pursuing redress; when you abdicate your right as a “worker” to justice, you have become a significant part of the etiology of your own misery.  In essence, you have declared to the world that you will give up fighting for, and taking back, your dignity; and your demand to be treated justly.   In essence, you betray yourself and accept the role of victim.  With all (if not many) of you who are on medical leave, in my opinion, this is a major contributor to your illness; whether physiological or psychological.  Not so magically, you have become your own biggest problem!  You have made a conscious decision to abandon your dignity and your right to justice.  You, without a doubt, in “one fell swoop”, abandon yourself and accept the role of victim.  I guarantee you, that is not a psychologically/physiologically healthy decision to have made.  Are you sitting down?  Several hours marching on a picket line outside NHQ, (or yes, even your own office), trumps a visit to your psychiatrist/psychologist as therapy.  You may even be able to cut back on those anti-depressant meds you’ve been “eating”.  I’m sure (because I know you!) that some of you hesitate to “rock the boat” for a variety of reasons (e.g. what else will I do?; or, I don’t want to lose my pension, or paltry settlement).  I assure you that these thoughts are self-destructive; mostly because they allow the victimizers (RCMP Executives and their puppet-master Mr. Harper) to continue in the role of bully; and you continue to play the role of victim.

So where does this problem originate?  Think for a moment.  In which direction does your pyramid-like organization lead?  That’s right…upward!!  However the puppet-masters are not always visible.  As they play such an unpopular and destructive role, and have engendered the wrath of significant numbers of RCMP “grunts”, your wrath (Activism) is best directed, at least in part, at them. They are the “fat-cats”.  They control (don’t forget the Commissioner of the RCMP is a Deputy Minister in Mr. Harper’s government) your wages, hours of work, workload, salary scale, benefits, pension, working conditions, officer safety issues, tools etc.  These characters, in essence, have you “by the balls” and for you females “by the ……..”.  Don’t underestimate them, it is not beyond them to (e.g. recall their recent transgression regarding the confidentiality of the members’ medical records in “E” Division!).  Don’t put it past them, they will break the law, perjure themselves, and conspire (recall here some of the Commissioner’s transgressions) never to be held accountable except by you (and me).  For all the healthiest reasons, you must never forget: “the shortest distance between two points is not always a straight line”.  In my opinion the “golden age” of Commissioners ended in 2000 with Philip Murray.  Those who followed after have failed to uphold the standards set by those who preceded them.  When the Commissioner doesn’t “Maintien le droit”, in NHQ, the old values are weakened and the Force drifts.  Here’s a partial list of RCMP transgressions, where you’d have a tough time convincing me that there wasn’t a “white shirt” involved somewhere in the saga: do you recall (from your history class at “Depot”, of course) the RCMP breaking strikes during the 20’s and 30’s?  Three miners were killed at the Estevan Riot, by RCMP members acting as spies; there are innumerable Inuit accounts of the killing of sled dogs by RCMP members during the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s in harmony with the Federal government’s efforts to relocate the Inuit into modern settlements; in 1977 the Quebec Provincial government opened the Keable “Inquiry into illegal police activities” that resulted in 17 members of the RCMP being charged with 44 offenses (with no “white shirt” input … yeah right?!); also in 1977, Justice David McDonald oversaw the “Inquiry Into Certain Activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police”.  The Justice recommended that the RCMP involvement be limited within intelligence operations, which resulted in the formation of CSIS; some three years later; in 1971, an RCMP group broke into Richelieu Explosives and stole an unspecified amount of dynamite.  One year later, several members hid four cases of TNT in Mont St-Gregoire in a botched attempt to link the explosives with the F.L.Q.  This fiasco was later admitted to by Sol. Gen. Francis Fox; in 1976, a series of more than 400 illegal break-ins by the RCMP were revealed by reporter John Sawatsky.  An RCMP member (along with two members of other police forces) were found guilty and given conditional discharges; in 1974, an RCMP member was arrested for planting explosives at the home of Sam Steinberg (Steinberg Foods).  While he did not take this action on behalf of the RCMP, at trial he testified that he had done “much worse” on behalf of the RCMP; confirming my earlier assertion that we would have a tough time convincing people that there was at least some “white shirt” involvement in these escapades.  In 1978 the Director of RCMP Criminal Operations Branch admitted that his employer had illegally (no warrants) entered more than 400 premises since 1970; in 1972, RCMP Security Branch burned down Paul Rose’s mother’s barn in St-Anne-de-la-Rochelle, P.Q.  The arson was plan “B”, following a judge’s refusal to allow them to wire-tap the meeting place.  The transgressions listed to this point have been historical.  Jumping forward you will discover such incidents as: the excessive use of force at the 1997 APEC Summit; the killing of Darren Varley (1999); the torture scandals of Ahmad El Maati; Abdullah Almaki and Maher Arar around 2002-2003; the Pension Fund Scandal (Fraud allegations) dating back to 2002; the Ian Bush incident (2005), Mr. Bush died from a single gunshot wound to the back of his head; the Robert Dziekanski Taser incident (2007); the Royal Inland Hospital Incident involving another Tasering incident of an elderly man; allegations of political bias against InSite (a safe injection site).  The RCMP is alleged to have used taxpayers dollars to draft and mail letters referring to the internationally recognized agency as the “Centre for Excrements”, in addition they were accused of stacking talk radio shows with anti-InSite callers.  So, it seems that the Force’s former standards have been tarnished; the old values have been adjusted downward and weakened, not by the “grunt”, in most cases, but by the folks (“white shirts”) who “run the show” and “call the shots”.  These individuals, in many cases, are cunning adversaries and it seems that they are not beyond breaking the law or perjuring themselves in an effort to escape accountability for their actions (have you been reading Jean Marc Villeneuve’s contributions to your blog?).  Although it may sound crazy, we must consider, in light of the RCMP Commissioner’s position as a Deputy Minister of the justice portfolio, that the government (and the RCMP) own the courts.

To those of you who prefer to avoid conflict, are concerned about your security in the future, or are just doubting of your power to bring about change (and are ill!) I want to assure you, you are going to miss one of “the” most meaningful things you will ever do with your life; and unfortunately, your illness may persist.  To those of you who are interested in things like; healing; change; being there for your partner/children; making the RCMP what it once was and can be again; restoring public confidence; or just plain agitating, go pick up a placard, sit down at your “emailer” thingy, or join MPPAC!  There is a process in place for reform, right now, but if you don’t believe this, then start your own (check out retired members like Rob Creasser and Calvin Lawrence)!  In many cases, this kind of political involvement contributes more to healing than 100 visits to someone like me.

Please remember, in writing this piece, I’m not doing so as your therapist.  At the risk of offending you, I view you all, as my brothers and sisters; and I want my family to have good information and options.  So on that note, here is a suggestion that you may want to explore:

Awareness training, similar to what you can find in the “human potential movement” (yes, I live on an island, but no, I haven’t grown a ponytail… I wish I could!). If you’ve kept up with your employer’s attempts to have me censured, you may have become familiar with a term used by me, and quoted by them in their complaint; “radical psychology”.  While most truly radical psychologists would be offended to have me compared to them; to do so might be akin to comparing a camp fire to a forest fire, the discipline provides some interesting reading and information (e.g. Dennis Fox ); The Counselling Psychologist – a professional journal; Vera, Elizabeth M; and Speight, Suzette L.; Hepburn, A. ; Sarason, B.; and, Sloan, T. (all frequent contributing authors).

In closing, the RCMP (a once Canadian icon of policing) and the Canadian public, cannot wait for the government to step in and clean house, as the RCMP is not clearly distinct from the government, being a portfolio of the Minister of Justice “sort of” run by his Deputy Minister, the Commissioner of the Force!  The “outfit” needs you!!  It needs MPPAC and you!! MPPAC needs you!! I offer my experience with both union and non-union police services (now approaching 40 years) to you.  Please whatever you do (my brothers and sisters), in contravention to what you were taught at “Depot”, “don’t drive your mirrors” look ahead to a healthier future.  And never forget, with regard to all these words you have just read: awareness is good but action is better!  Just one action taken with the goal of changing the RCMP for the better may equal the reading of 10 self-help books and 10 visits to your “shrink”.

I will leave you with this; “be the changes you want in the world” – it may be good for your health!

Have a safe and joyous New Year,

Dr. Mike Webster, R. Psych.

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6 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    Thanks for that … it was a good read. Even having a union, and as a PSE it took four years to complete one harassment file, from start to the mediated settlement, which again the employee lost out big time. The second file after investigation and 2 out of six allegations were founded, by the way the other 4 should have been as well if not tampered with by the White Shirts of the RCMP, they don’t know what harassment is, and never will, they lie, cover it up and bury it. That took four years to finalize and again that was 8 years out of 15 that the employee was dragged and mentally bruised over this type of behaviour. Again a mediated 2nd settlement, and the employee silenced, but still not able to function because of all the abuse, no word of thanks for your employment and your service under those conditions. I will not be silenced ever, this is my story and I will rejoice the day when “everyone” Regular Members, Civilian members are covered by a union that will protect them from the brutal and inept management. The RCMP eats it own, and could care less about the people, (fine people) whose working lives they have destroyed. May the SCC decide the right issues and permit a union for those who don’t have one.

  2. I was a unionized police officer from 1976 to 1998 when my force, ( Moncton Police Force) was absorbed by the RCMP. The last 14 years of my 36 year career was a nightmare. Shockingly rights I had taken for granted were gone in an instant and I was expected to assimilate into the BORG like atmosphere. I worked with some great people, all of whom had their greatness diminished by the oppressive regime of the RCMP. I had one compliment I gave out sparingly and it was ” You would have made a good City cop” we also were branded (us 124 former Moncton Police Officers) as having an attitude. It was called the “MPF attitude” and it was a badge I wore with honour because it meant they did not want this attitude spreading. The attitude i speak of is condensed into this phrase. ” I will not believe all I am told nor all that I am shown, I will intelligently discover for myself the truth” sadly there remain but a few of the old MPF members in the ranks of the RCMP in Codiac and 17 years have thinned the herd. I envision and pray for the day the MPPAC comes into power and then it will spread the attitude, by a new name, but with the same intent. Stand up for yourself,or sit down and take it the choice is yours.

  3. thewolfinsheeps permalink

    Great article, thank you. What I struggle with, and I’m guessing many others as well, is the balance between doing what you talked about in this article and what you mentioned in two of you recent previous offerings. Not “giving in” to a system you know is wrong, taking a stand, making a point or whatever you want to call it within the RCMP versus not letting it consume you with anger and frustration that ruins the rest of your life.

    For any of us that have tried to take a stand you well know what the inevitable outcome will be. Nothing, no change, no vindication and eventually repercussions for you and your career. It is virtually impossible within the framework of the RCMP. As the doctor has indicated, the system is designed not to work for the rank and file. It is extremely frustrating to know you have had an injustice perpetrated against you or others, and watch no one seem to care, or even worse, be “ok” with it. It kind of goes against everything we stand for as police persons ironically. Right now in Kelowna we are dealing with a fairly minor issue that in it’s infancy seems to be galvanizing the members. It may seem silly, be we have without explanation been asked to pay for parking that has been previously been provided for us free of charge. I don’t think it’s the money that is at issue for the members, it seems to be somewhat symbolic of yet another kick in the teeth, particularly when it is clear senior management is not supporting us on the issue. There are early signs of the members “taking a stand” on this issue, and talk of protest of some sort. I fear however that as push comes to shove I will witness what I have observed in every previous such instance I have been witness to. Management will “crush” whatever members are working the first day of the protest with retribution in the form of orders, codes, etc and threatening emails will follow. Fear will spread and the “movement” will die as quickly as it was born.

    Trying to galvanize a membership that is overall so brainwashed and scared is next to impossible. The DSR program is impotent and/or indifferent. I for one refuse to just roll over however. Strangely, as badly as I’ve been treated, I want more than anything to see change within the Force and I will do whatever little bit I can to make it happen. I told a co-worker the other day that change within the RCMP will never happen in any sort of an evolutionary process, it has to be revolutionary, and revolutions start at the bottom.

  4. Buck permalink

    The organization the RCMP has come to most resemble in its free fall from reality? The illustrious Church of Scientology.

    Motto could change from Maintiens le Droit to Avoid the Truth.

    Buck

  5. I read in a book once that said; the ROOT of ALL Evil is the Love of Money. Governments are kind of like like a Hockey Team and often times operate & model everything like it. You have the forwards like the PMO in Canada & Poutin in Russia. The right wings & left wing political parties but you also have the defencemens & the goldies blocking the shots Governments takes & the agencies receive.

    However what concerns me are the enforcers, the cheaters who are sent to punish anyone playing a good game and making points who are sent to hurt them.

    This is a story of such a Political, Major Crime case where a Canadian Police Officer who stumbled on some political fraud & reported it to his Chief was dealth with severely in order to make the problem go away and to also get him out of the way in an Assassination Attempt that was watered down & covered up by Investigators; Google; Shediac1981 or go to shediac1981.wordpress.com

  6. Everybody thinks that unions are a life saver but think again.
    On June 2, 1981 when I was ordered to work a double shift or I would be fire in Shediac when one of the officers decided to go drinking instead, I did what I was told, I was setup and was shot. The union was useless, the Police Commission was useless, the RCMP were useless and the NB Government was useless….. Don’t think anyone will run to help you, it’s just not set up that way.

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