I’ve been documenting my correspondence with my longest term prescribing psychiatrist for a few years. The page where I link to all the documentation has been getting traffic since the article I wrote about my being polydrugged was published on David Healy’s site and Mad in America. I link to it when I mention the conversation I have with my prescribing doctor. He’s the guy who put me on all the drugs that have made me so sick. I’ve dealt with numerous, many not so easy, emotions in coming to find a way to communicate with him. Some of my readers seem to have an issue that I would talk to him at all. This has been the case since I first started corresponding with him and sharing information about our interactions. The fact is I do it because I hope to impress upon him the harm he’s caused so that he might not harm others. As I said in comments at Mad in America and at David Healy’s site, it’s not a touchy feely exercise that I might commune with him…it’s that I might help those who might otherwise be harmed by him. I may not change him 100% but I am quite sure that he considers what I’ve told him now before prescribing to new patients.
I’m going to post below (with some edits) comments I posted on the comment threads at Mad in America and RxIsk (David Healy’s site) in response to people questioning why I would want to communicate with this doctor. I’ve edited them a bit and strung them together. If you’ve not read the original article you might want to do that as well.
Often the criticism I get about talking to this man involves a disbelief that he could possibly have ever cared about me at all. I don’t believe that he’s an unfeeling monster. No, I don’t. Given that I was a social worker for many years who worked side by side with other mental health professionals, including a good number of psychiatrists I know these folks from having been one. Let’s say my own experience as both (now – ex) patient and a mental health professional allows for some interesting and often uncomfortable insights into the mental health system from both sides of the proverbial couch.
It’s convenient and sometimes satisfying to imagine all the prescribers of psychiatric drugs are evil. (And for our healing process it may also be helpful at certain junctures) But it’s simply not the case most of the time…misunderstanding this fact can forfeit any chance of meaningful dialogue with those who might otherwise have ears to hear. I opt for meaningful dialogue and frankly I welcome the opportunity to dialogue with people that are not part of the choir. To be clear, saying these people are not evil is not to suggest they are not responsible for some very bad and even criminal behavior at times. The fact is, however, they do not realize that this behavior is harmful and criminal. I am in a unique position to discuss this with them that they might see. In the time I’ve done this work I’ve seen many people come around and start realizing what is going on. This generally does not happen when people are yelling at them. It happens when they can both listen and be heard.
When I engage with this particular doctor I do it because I care about the people he is still treating. It’s not some sort of touchy feely exercise to commune with him. Seeing and believing him to be evil when it’s clear to me that he is not would get us no where at all. It would only totally alienate him and make him defensive. I may not change him 100% but I’m sure at this point he will never prescribe quite the same way again either. I’ve been sending him my work and other information on the harm psych meds cause for several years now. Any time less aggressive prescribing is used…any time people end up on less medications… will diminish how much people are harmed. This too is harm reduction.
This sort of communicating with our old doctors is by no means appropriate for everyone. This is something I do, not something I recommend to others unless they too feel comfortable and confident that it’s something right for them. It’s simply not always possible nor is it always appropriate or safe. I support protecting ourselves and NOT retraumatizing ourselves or risking our safety in any way. That is why it depends on the person and the situation. Again, it’s not always the right thing to do. So no one need imagine I’m advocating others do this.
We all work where we are moved to work. We talk to those we can communicate with and help. I was a professional in this field. I am skilled at communicating with other professionals. I do what I can on as many fronts as possible in this battle to educate and change what is happening with the use of psychiatric drugs.
If talking to MDs about the harm they caused doesn’t feel right people shouldn’t do it. Certainly all our relationships with these people are unique and individual just as our paths to healing after the trauma is also individual and unique.