Pt 31-C: Esther LeBaron Spencer, the Mexico-LeBarons, and Mental Illness
“He did the wrong thing for the right reason.”
Repeating what was said in previous blogs, both my mother and Grandmother Maud LeBaron believed the cause of mental illness in their immediate family was mainly due to the townspeople who ostracized and persecuted them incessantly.
But people need to take a good look at what part they, themselves, play in what happens to them and the lives of their children.
Let’s continue where we left off in blog “Pt 31-B.”
M- All the previous situations discussed in blogs “Pt 31-A & B,” and more, contributed to mental illness in the Mexico-LeBaron family—especially given that there was a history of mental illness in both my grandmother and grandfather LeBaron’s family lines.
N- Let’s not leave out that Grandpa Dayer LeBaron, himself, was not well-balanced mentally. Besides being guided by dreams, voices he heard in his head, and other such, he had personality disorders. On top of that, he, himself, was born and raised in a Mormon polygamous pioneer family—So no doubt he suffered and experienced many of the same things his own children later endured.
What’s more, despite how handsome he was, Grandpa Dayer was already an outcast when Grandma Maud married him. But she, too, had a few personality disorders, albeit to a lesser degree. And HER own father became mentally deranged in her later years. More on this in future blogs.
O- Now let us factor in the Mexico-LeBarons’ many fanatical and shaming fundamentalist Mormon/Fundy beliefs. And the ignorance we all share as human beings. ALL of this and more colluded, collided, and escalated to incubate the insanity and other personality disorders running in the Mexico-LeBarons’ genes—a collusion that eventually kicked in big-time with especially my grandparents’ sensitive and highly-gifted Ben, Wesley, Lucinda, and Ervil.
P- We’ve gotten this far and haven’t mentioned they didn’t believe in Psychology nor Psychological Counseling. And there was no Dr. Phil anywhere to be seen!
Q- What’s worse, besides being laws unto themselves, and largely ostracized by others, this beautiful, bright, talented family was nonetheless not well-educated nor well read—though they thought they were.
R- And, on top of all else, they were pretty much isolated. They lived far away from family and relatives and without many friends. Plus, they lived during the Great Depression, in a foreign, strange land, in a small-town—a Mexican-Mormon colony that faught tooth-and-toenail these gorgeous, highly gifted, Mexico-LeBaron renegades and creatives living on the fringe of society and reality.
S- The Maud and Dayer LeBaron family simply had almost nowhere to turn for help in the face of all their extenuating problems and situations! And to exacerbate everything else, Grandpa Dayer lacked tact. The last thing he would do was compromise ANY of his values in order to come to an agreement so as to get along with others who differed with him. He didn’t believe in compromising when it came to telling the truth and doing what was right. It was not beneath him to tell people they were stupid and going to hell if they didn’t agree with him and follow his beliefs.
T- I almost left out a crucial factor: Not only were the Mexico-LeBarons ostracized by most of their own town’s people, AND the mainstream Mormon church, but by all the Mormon fundamentalist groups too—the “Fundies”!
U- Now add to this that in the time the Mexico-LeBarons lived—the olden days—Mental Illness carried terrible stigmas! People held extreme and fearful beliefs such as “The devil or evil spirits are in the mentally ill person!” Many believed Satan resided in the insane so avoided the family.
A person could be ostracized from the community because he or she was mentally deranged. Often the mentally challenged person’s whole family would be ostracized right along with the crazy member. They would be jeered at, sticks and stones thrown to break their bones—the list goes on. Sadly, the Mexico-LeBarons endured all this and more.
V- When you consider the many things my overly-challenged Mexico-LeBaron family had to bear up under, it’s a wonder they survived at all and remained strong and determined in so many ways. (Nietzsche said: “Whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” Really?!)
One way they survived was to try to prove themselves by out-doing others whenever they were able to. (Often that was not such a challenge for the Mexico-LeBarons!) Another tactic they employed was to try to rise above the gossip and persecution. Still another was to escape into a dreamworld. Mother said she purposely created stories in her mind about the way she wanted her life to be because this helped her survive the terrible ostracism and shame brought upon her and her family.
W- I’m not saying the Mexico-LeBarons didn’t have their faults and foibles that caused them to be cast out by most people. I’m saying this was a most unusual and strong family, considering all they endured and survived. And, despite everything, they were leaders, no less: They acquired followers and they lead them—by hook or crook!
(Continued January 28, 2019 in “Pt 31-D: My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer, the Mexico-LeBarons, and Mental Illness)