Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hey NAMI, here's a theory...

NAMI's new publication, "A Roadmap to Wellness for Individuals Living with Mental Illness", appears slightly out of the organization's traditional character. I think it's a hopeless PR patch, actually. Nobody's going to forget anytime soon that this group is utterly beholden to big pharma and primarily dedicated to getting everybody to take psychotropic drugs whether they like it or not.

But an interesting passage on page 4 of this paper reads as follows:

Often, when someone tells a health care provider that he or she is taking antipsychotic medications or lives with a serious mental illness, a person will receive a lower quality of care or less attention. NAMI’s Schizophrenia Survey demonstrated that many people find that even informing a health care provider of an illness worsened their care. The survey, wherein participants shared their mental health diagnoses, showed that nearly half (49 percent) of those surveyed say that doctors took their medical problems less seriously once they learned of their diagnosis; an additional 39 percent of those who responded say that their (dx) of schizophrenia made it more difficult to get access to other medical care.

I know this is true. My forensic clients report the problem all the time. Referred by a state nuthouse treatment team for independent consultation about, say, a dermatological problem or an athletic injury, they arrive at the outside medical clinic to be met with clear disrespect and "discrimination" from everybody, especially doctors.

I think I know why this happens, too. Here's my theory.

Put yourself in the non-psychiatric doctor's shoes. First of all, he knows perfectly well that the patient he's looking at is more or less owned by somebody who's not trying to cure disease, but rather to disable the person neurologically from possible future bad behavior. This embarasses a well-intended health care professional with any commitment to the Hippocratic Oath. Instinctively, he wants nothing to do with the situation.

Secondly, the MD knows pretty well how bad psychotropic drugs really are. Yet if he recommends that a patient try to stop taking them, he's in a position of contradicting the state psychiatrist who referred the patient. Chances are pretty good that the complaint which brought the patient to the clinic is about symptoms caused by the meds the referring psychiatrist has prescribed. Big, complex, no-win situation. Bad business. Doctor just wants to avoid, avoid.

Lastly, everybody knows there's pervasive lying all around this case. The psychiatrist pretends the patient has a chemical imbalance or a brain disease which cannot be demonstrated or tested for. The patient probably lies about the same thing, not to mention about past bad behavior ("... schizophrenia/postpartum depression/bipolar disorder/delusions/voices/psychosis made me kill her, judge, I couldn't control it..."), so maybe he/she lies about current symptoms, too. And the whole culture lies about the efficacy of medicalizing behavior and happiness, because we all want a magic pill to save us the hard work of personal discipline.

The arrival of a mental patient at a non-psychiatric medical clinic makes health care providers nervous, at least subconsciously, as in, "Um ... which long-forgotten lie might I need to cover up now?"

When suddenly worried about getting caught, people become ... testy. It's a natural human reaction that's nearly impossible to suppress. If you ask me, this explains the phenomena described by NAMI in the quote above.

The best "roadmap" NAMI could provide for individuals with mental illness might show a route called the truth. Is it too much to ask?

Wellness ultimately never comes from medicating bad behavior.

Drugs disable the senses and the analytical faculties.

Mental illnesses are not known brain diseases.

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