Psych visit: a short video and memoir (updated with commentary by the video maker)

A good friend had a crisis a few years ago that pulled her suddenly into psychiatry. This is her story:

Update I noticed a link to my site where the psychiatrist Steven Balt also shares this video. He adds his own commentary. I shared this with the author of the blog who left a comment on his site. Since it further explains the authors history and intent when she made the video I’m sharing it here.

I am the person who made the video you are posting. There was more to it than I can show in a video. I do not disagree with the diagnosis. What I went through when I got the diagnosis, is actually very similar to section 296 in the DSM. However, whenever I tried to raise the possibility that perhaps I did not have bipolar disorder, the only two things he could really point to, were talking fast and not sleeping. He would also say I was upset, if you want to count that as a third thing.

The main point I was trying to make was not that I disagree with the diagnosis in my case, based on minor complaints. The main point was that the whole process is absurd. I would not have a problem with shrinks if they would conceptualize their practice as being akin to that of anaesthesiologists – pain, after all, is not a disease. It is a symptom of something greviously wrong with the body. However, sometimes it is beneficial to block pain, for the sake of being able to function, or end suffering. Instead, shrinks constantly come up with the diabetes analogy because bipolar disorder is supposedly chronic and needs lifelong management, as diabetes does. This analogy is problematic. It leads the uninformed person to believe that the psychiatric drug is actually correcting something physiological, because insulin DOES do that for diabetes. People should be told the truth about the reasons they should take psychiatric drugs. Sometimes a person does need to be sedated, as I asked for them to do to me, when I sent myself to the psych ward. But that does not mean a disease process has been identified or the “medicine” (drug) is treating something.

Honesty is needed in the profession, when what I experienced was more like linguistic game-playing with my shrink. He would not outright lie to me, but he would complicate the issues by using medical sounding jargon, which really were just layers upon layers of self-defining words. I disagree with the entire construct of bipolar disorder. I think the standard of care is severely lacking. People are routinely not given informed consent. It is assumed that we would be willing to take any “side effect” in our ever-constant pursuit of a so-called stable mood. And then, if a person does not achieve a stable mood on the drugs, it is assumed that the problem is the disorder, never the drug itself.

By the way, I really love my shrink and have fond memories of him (he moved away). He is a good guy. That does not change the fact, though, that the absurdity of the situation makes me laugh.

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