Sunday, November 05, 2006

Legitimacy of Psychiatry

Quote of the Day:

"Ever since the American Psychiatric Association admitted no lab tests exist to diagnose any mental disorder, the entire legitimacy of psychiatry has become questionable. Couple this with the 19 international warnings about how psychiatric drugs have been linked to causing diabetes, liver failure, violence, suicide and sudden death, it becomes apparent that strict constraints against psychiatry must be called for to protect children."

Lawrence Hooper, MD
Health Committee Chairman of the San Jose (CA) Branch

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That's what psychiatrists have going for them. No one questions their methods. Those who do are called insane or Scientologists or both. I'm neither, but I have been called both. Many times.

What if everyone except you heard voices that weren't there? The world would be set up to accommodate the lifestyle necessary for hearing voices all the time. It would be a different place altogether, a different planet. Just imagine...

Now imagine yourself taking a little blue pill that causes you to hear voices like everyone else. The pill works great and you are hearing voices! You are now a part of society and you can live a semi-normal life as long as you take this pill every day. Never mind that it causes you to sleep all day and gain weight and see everything blurry. You can hear the voices, and that's all that matters.

So, who gets to decide what really matters?

It all depends on what planet you live on.

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I'm not entirely against psychiatry. I'm against force and coercion. I believe in the concept of informed consent, which doesn't exist in psychiatry. The only answers I ever got from a psychiatrist were "this pill will help your depression" or "this pill helps with anger" or "I know the side effects are rough, but if you give it more time, it will start working." How stupid do you think I am, doc? Geesh! Oh, let me check the PDR myself.

Which is what I ended up doing. I read other books, too, many of which were for scholarly professionals. I learned the terminology. I learned how diagnoses were made. I learned that every person I knew could fit into at least one diagnostic category. I learned how easy it was to diagnose anyone.

I would be grateful to psychiatry if they treated me like something more than a label. I would also be grateful if a psychiatrist told me my OPTIONS after diagnosing me with a chronic, incurable mental condition that has STIGMA stamped all over it. But I never heard options. I eventually learned about them on my own through newsletters and conferences run by people who also lived with the STIGMA of mental illness.

This STIGMA is so ingrained in society that even mental health professionals carry it around like a shield of armor as they walk the halls of the insane asylums.

"Okay, the hospitals are cleaner now than what they were in the 40s. The pictures are prettier. No more lobotomies because of the invention of Thorazine. ECT is still used, but the patients don't convulse or break bones. We can't use it as punishment anymore. Oh, but we always have our needles handy.

We'd use a taser, too, if they'd let us. Just give it time..."

Mental patients have always being the lowest on the totem pole in society. This goes way back, since the beginning of time. Some things never change, either. I don't know how many times I've been considered "demon possessed" and had exorcisms done on me. It's really no big deal to be exorcised, truth be told. You just yawn a lot.

The history of the mental health system is a story worse than any horrors you could conjure up on your own. There was a time, a couple hundred years ago, when psychiatrists were inventors of torture devices that would theoretically cause an insane person to "snap out of it." The competition was fierce, too, and the marketing of each item was as relentless as the drug companies marketing today.

The horrors may have changed over time, but the STIGMA lives on. People are afraid of what they don't understand, but what they don't understand is that they, too, could be diagnosed just as easily as the next person. And STIGMA follows you around like a dark shadow.

It's everywhere, even within your own thinking.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm grateful that the doc I see interacts with me as a peer and not a patient.
STIGMA is a leathal weapon!
"she"

I Seek Zen said...

It is indeed the tragic truth that the labels and not the inividuals who are seen by the Psychiatrist and the world around us.

And this situation is not likely to change. It is easy for a Psychiatrist or a Physician to affix a diagosis or a 'Label' to a patient, since hereafter he/she knows what work-up is required and what treatment is warranted. What is easily overlooked is the 'human' touch. Absent is the understanding that the 'labelled patient' is human with his/her emotional needs etc.

I can not fully understand your agony and turmoils with the stima of the psychiatric illness but would definetly try to empathise with you...and remember you are not alone...