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So I want to talk about some of the stuff going on in the comments section of Shrink Rap: if you haven't been reading along as we rant, it's gotten pretty heated. I'm not sure I can get this line straight as it's gone through a number of posts, but let me try.
Jayme commented on my thoughts about The Sopranos in my post Shrinks aren't Perfect.
I responded to her comment in a post called Continuing With That Thought.
Jayme returned and told us that she is a psychiatry "survivor" and an anti-psychiatrist activist.
Roy put up a post where he linked to one of Jayme's posts and to her drawings as well, in his post Grand Rounds, Campgrounds, & Breakdowns (what a great post title).
Lily commented on Roy's post that she's angry that he's supporting an anti-psychiatry activist by linking to her. I have to admit, I sort of wondered about that one, too, but I assumed Roy liked an isolated part of the blog, and who says we have to agree with all the views of everyone we link to?
So here at Shrink Rap, we get a fairly diverse group of commenters: some love psychiatrists, some hate psychiatrists, and oh, some have a love-hate relationship with psychiatrists, psychiatry, and the whole concept of mental illness.
My feelings? Not that anyone asked, but here's what I think. Please remember that I don't work in any setting where I see anyone against their will--I'm an outpatient doc and my patients walk in the door willingly and walk out the door willingly. I'm here if you want and need me, very few exceptions.
I believe that if someone is suffering and wants the help of mainstream psychiatry, they should get it. Maybe they don't, or maybe psychiatry has failed them-- either because they saw the wrong doc, were given the wrong meds, had the wrong kind of therapy, or had a resistant problem that just didn't get better with the right therapy and numerous trials of the right meds with the right therapy. Psychiatric treatments help a lot of people, clearly they don't help everyone.
If someone wants to go it on their own or try alternative treatments: great. I'm not the person to see to obtain those remedies, although I am usually happy to treat my patients with conventional treatment while they also do yoga or have acupuncture, or even go to a faith healer, have their bowels cleansed, speak with their clergyman, or do anything else they think might help. I believe in what works-- if it helps someone, I'm all for it, with the exception of illegal drugs, but hey, I treat plenty of folks who use those, too, I just don't condone it.
Still, I don't like Anti-Psychiatry Activism and this is why. If psychiatric treatment didn't help a given patient, if the given patient even felt harmed by it, then perhaps that particular patient feels better served by another form of treatment or self-help. The problem with the activist part is that it becomes judgmental, it makes the case that others shouldn't seek psychiatric care-- that they are somehow wrong, weak, or flawed if they want to try conventional treatments or even if they feel helped by them. Anti-psychiatry activism enhances the stigma associated with psychiatric illness and treatment and serves as a deterrent to those who are seeking relief from their suffering.
If it helps, do it. And as someone who's back had back pain for the past 10 days, rest assured that it's part of the human condition to say to someone else: This Helped Me, Maybe It Will Help You. But don't condemn those who find help in a different place than you did.
Note to Jayme: I have not read your blog, this isn't a personal attack, just the springboard for a post inspired by Lily's distress.