Photo of a section of graffiti mural in Clarion Alley, San Francisco

Watch What You Think!

Since my diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder I have faced nothing but resistance from Kaiser’s dogmatic behavioral model which stubbornly clings to “evidence based research” conducted on the healthiest and best educated patients in the Behavioral Health System.

I received this quote on a handout at a CPTSD group at Kaiser yesterday:

Watch your thoughts; they become your words
Watch your words, they become your actions,
Watch your actions, they become your habits,
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

The quote was attributed to a “20th century writer” named Frank Outlaw.

Frank Outlaw wasn’t a writer.

Frank Outlaw was the founder and President of the BI-LO Stores .

“Frank Outlaw founded BI-LO in the Upstate of South Carolina in 1961. In the following years Mr. Outlaw’s chain of stores grew rapidly and by 1977, when Ahold purchased BI-LO, there were 96 stores in the Carolinas and Georgia.

“Frank Outlaw, a former Winn-Dixie executive, bought four Greenville, S.C. grocery stores from the chain Wrenn and Syracuse, to create the Wrenn & Outlaw chain. In 1963, the chain was renamed BI-LO.”

The quote has been traced to other sources but when you change the words and the order of the words you change the meaning.

Here is an 1885 variant of Watch your Thoughts credited to a Bishop Beckwaith.

Plant a thought and reap a word;
plant a word and reap an action;
plant an action and reap a habit;
plant a habit and reap a character;
plant a character and reap a destiny.

The quotes are entirely different.

The first quote is a moral judgment; the second quote is a recommendation.

I was so offended when I read the handout that I told the CPTSD group leader that if she had met me when I was in my late 20’s she would have met someone whose thoughts and actions had nothing at all to do with his character.

I was angry, confused and frightened, and I had every reason to believe that I would soon die from HIV.

How does one watch ones thoughts when one is living in terror?

How do I watch my thoughts when the primary symptom of my illness is loss of behavioral control and memory?

Behaviorists live in a fairy land that excludes daily beatings, institutional  racism, hunger, sexual exploitation, religious hypocrisy, incest, rape, a punitive economic system, illiteracy and medical profiteers who think they have the right to toy with broken minds.

Freudian insight has been replaced by mandates from our Behavioral Health System to “watch what we think”.

To see how truly offensive this quote is, examine how it is used in this motivational speech: We don’t need drama anymore what we need is motivation.

“OFW’s has already endured a lot of drama. Drama will not lead us to success but motivation will. There should be no place for drama in OFW’s lives.

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Late President of the Bi-Lo Stores

Therefore: Think of riches and it will become your destiny…”

I don’t want riches.

I want treatment for Dissociative Identity Disorder.

I want treatment, not classist platitudes from the local Winn Dixie.

(c) Robert Goldstein 2015 All Rights Reserved


13 thoughts on “Watch What You Think!

  1. Rob well stated and again and again you stand for justice, for expression and most of all explanations of who we are which supports who we can be. We can also speak out as you do and in this way strengthen the process that leads to healing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I quite agree with you, I find such moralistic judgements revolting. For me, having CPTSD means setting such things aside and realizing that my brain isn’t setup to ‘watch my thoughts,’ but I can treat myself with understanding and kindness to work through my feelings in a non-judgmental way that doesn’t involve some sudden avalanche closing off my entire destiny. There are millions of people today living in slavery, dire poverty, and other circumstances that have nothing to do with and don’t change based on their individual thoughts or character, but are decided by the system we live under.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for this crucial addition to the post. Your comment is a good example of the kind of mental health I want in a treatment provider. I want a treatment provider that lives in the real world where our most savage instincts run unleashed even in those areas of our culture that were once thought sacred. Hundreds of disabled people roam the City toothless because in the late
      1980’s Republican Governor Pete Wilson removed dental coverage from Medi-cal. Why did he do this? Because that’s what barbarians do. Thank you for adding to my post. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I believe this is a peephole into the mind of the capitalist, who will climb over the backs of children to get what he wants. Thought control is the ultimate prison. When I was a little girl I learned this song from my first babysitter:

    Die Gendonkins zind Frie
    My thoughts give me power
    Die Gedonkins zind Frie
    My thoughts give me power
    No hunter can catch them
    No doubter can snatch them
    No man can deny
    Die Gedonkins zind Frie

    I think what I please
    And that gives me power….

    I believe this song came from a concentration camp. When the thoughts are free, we are liberated. When the thoughts are necessarily constricted, we are prisoners of the “thought police.”

    It’s terrifying to me that science has now perfected a machine that can literally see thoughts. It’s not bad enough with lie detectors, now they have thought detectors! Who knows, maybe soon we will be forced to go through thought detectors before getting on an airplane! I dissociate as it is, when forced to undergo either x-ray vision of my naked body or, if I don’t want to do that, have some nasty stranger’s hands feeling me up. Come to think of it, I’m not so sure that, once I get my RV, I will be flying anywhere…what reason would there be?

    The RV is a symbol of freedom, the freedom to go where I want both in corporality and in thought. I will go somewhere and finish my novel; somewhere else and finish the three volumes of my memoir up to age 17. Freedom, without the glowering beast of the deep threatening always, to drag me down and drown me in its reeking filth…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is such a beautiful comment.

      I don’t know if this will make sense to you but I sense an aesthetic in the way the lines are shaped, almost as if the words are clay and molded into packets of emotion that go directly to the readers intellect and emotions.

      Even if I’m only high that’s brilliant….:) But I’m not.:)

      You wrote: I think what I please
      And that gives me power….

      I sometimes wish I didn’t have a history as a mental health provider. I do believe that thinking independently involves having the ability to be creative and flexible
      in one’s thinking.

      I was abused sexually and psychologically. I was constantly told what to think
      and always blamed for behaviors that betrayed my thoughts.

      As I read the handout I could feel myself get angry and I thought:

      Jesus F-Christ it’s fifty fucking years later and they’re still fucking trying to tell me what to think. After I scanned the internets and read up on the guy and saw that he was a rich cracker from the “low” country, it was all pretty fucking low as I recall…I mean I recognized the tone of voice
      in the quote. It’s so weird that it was made by a guy living in the Carolinas in 1962.

      I guess I got mad. 🙂

      Anyway; I’m going to deconstruct the rest of the handout as part of my blogging for mental health efforts.

      This is from the handout:

      Meanings that Harm:

      The Good Old Days: You remember the wonderful highs you got from something ( a drug, an abusive relationship, but ignore the tragedy of it.

      Examples: “Cocaine made me feel happy.” “I still love my partner though he hits me.”

      Meanings that Heal: The drug may have felt good but the cost was losing your job. The relationship has it’s good points and it’s bad points too.

      My point is this:

      The relevance of this bullshit to the problems presented by having a Dissociative disorder in which you spontaneously lose conscious awareness and become someone else who places your body in physical danger???


      The title of the handout is Creating Meaning but it’s meaningless to anyone who may have chronic schizophrenia and is slowly descending into homelessness because our mental health system has become completely academic and useless
      to people who are mentally ill.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The woman who taught me the song is the daughter of a Camp Survivor. I believe this is one of those songs that could be encoded to avoid discovery of its true meaning. I think that’s why you picked up on the thought-structure. You are a very sensitive person!

        Indeed, the “mental health” system is sick. So very, very sick…and those of us who need it most are being further and further marginalized. I am fortunate to have a system in place that has served me well for 15 +/- years, but as my psychologist and psychiatrist are aging into semi-retirement, I am left thinking, what will I do when they are no longer available to me? Who will help me when I have a crisis like I did yesterday, or start getting extrapyramidal symptoms like I did on Saturday, for crying out loud?

        I guess there will come a time when there will be nobody to turn to.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You wrote: I guess there will come a time when there will be nobody to turn to.

        My reply: Not if I can help it. We’re warriors and you and and I come from
        a rather hardy people. We pause to sigh. But we never give up. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! You’d think that mental health professionals would know better. Then you have the fact that if a rich white guy who lived in the South in 1961 told you to “watch what you thought” he meant it.
      The phrase, “Who do you think you are?” was as common in my childhood as the N-word.

      Liked by 1 person

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