I recently learned about Transformational Mutual Aid Practices (when I did an Internet search for prefigurative and mutual aid). Prefigurative being another new concept I’m learning about.
One of the first things I encountered was the zine A Call for Prefigurative Mental Health Support and Communal Care Within Radical Groups and Organizations. One section of that zine is “Who created this zine and why?” which gives interesting background about how the author came to embrace T-MAPs.
The anonymous author of the zine has given their work Creative Commons licensing, which allows remixing, prohibits commercial use or for-profit use.
Who created this zine and why?
The creator of this zine is white. They experienced infant/early childhood abuse that altered their brain development, which resulted in psychosis when under stress; psychotic episodes can be brief or last months. They experienced childhood and adolescent abuse that altered their development, which resulted in neuroses; depression, general anxiety, social anxiety, eating disorders, CPTSD, and panic attacks are ongoing. Their family of origin rejected them when they came out as pansexual; they have been working towards accepting and embracing their gender.
After untreated mental health issues led to transience and drug addiction led to jail, they have been healing and recreating themselves for the past 20 years. In that time, they have engaged in youth/queer/union/socialist/feminist/antiracist/antifascist/ecological/anarchist/communalist work, groups, and orgs. After years of various minimum wage jobs, they became a public high school teacher for 15 years. As a reading specialist, they worked with incoming freshmen who spent their elementary and middle school years being passed from intervention program to intervention program, arriving at high school with beginning reading skills. Several years ago, they left the toxic public education system and have plans to continue engaging with community education in the future.
In 2017, they participated in a T-MAPs workshop led by Sascha Altman DuBrul and became intrigued by the concept of comrades supporting each other’s mental health as a form of mutual aid. Two attempts to engage their last org with T-MAPs were met with silence, and no comrades reached out to them during a months-long depression with suicidal and psychotic episodes. Unfortunately, this type of alienation happens in organizing circles, as folx are often too overwhelmed by surviving capitalism to counteract the patterns of prevailing society and recognize communal care as essential and others as valued. We have lost more of our humanity than we realize. We cannot remain complacent and allow white supremacist capitalist homogeneous social norms to strip away our ability to care for each other.
The creator of this zine proposes that groups and orgs that do not prefigure mental health support and communal care are not revolutionary: they will not bring about the liberatory society we seek. The need to consciously reject and deliberately rescript the toxic architecture of dominant society’s patterns is dire, and the time to prefigure radical interpersonal relations in our communities is now.
A Call for Prefigurative Mental Health Support and Communal Care Within Radical Groups and Organizations.
“Our being is becoming, not stasis” – Murray Bookchin