Demoted…by another “relatively enlightened” mental health professional

So I just lost a faculty position (which I had been very excited about getting) because I did not want to be advertised as what essentially amounted to being a token psych patient in the bio…they refused to be clear about my professional experience and would not budge because I don’t have a masters degree. I have a lot of master level work experience in spite of the fact that I don’t have a masters degree. I am explicit about my experience here.

In spite of this extensive work experience, I am subject to being pigeon-holed as a patient…pretty much all the time. So, I drew the line…at some point the right thing will come along and my actual experience and knowledge will be what matters even among those in the academic elite. Because that is what I’m being subjected to: elitism. Sadly, it’s not just a personal insult, but instead has broad and universal implications for everyone subject to those in such positions.

So, yes, the fact that this woman can’t acknowledge the work I did is indicative of the oppression victims of psychiatry (and dare I say it, psychology)  have to deal with all the time. She actually felt motivated to go out of her way to DEMOTE me to make sure no one accidently imagined I had a masters degree…you know, keep the little people in their place. To be fair it had more to do with her own sense of importance as a professional than making me out to be just a patient. She values my perspective, just not enough to give me credit for my actual professional experience.

She made it sound implicitly like my colleagues were my superiors in the bio that was going to appear on the faculty page on the website . This is something she carries in her energetically. This is something that will leak out when dealing with others she considers less expert than herself. If she was aware of it or conscious she could have chosen to make it right. I’m not asking for anything fraudulent, I’m asking that my actual work be recognized. Instead she fraudulently implied I was subordinate to people who were my equals as co-workers…we in fact had the same position.

Here is the bio. Let me alert you that everyone else on the list of faculty have their academic credentials clearly following their names in their bios. I have none to display so giving me credit for the work I actually did should not confuse anyone but the dimmest of minds. Still it was important to this person to make sure that no one might possibly confuse me with folks who have such letters behind their names. So important that misrepresenting my work was deemed appropriate.

This is what I submitted:

  • Creator of the blog Beyond MedsMonica Cassani has seen the system from both sides – as a social worker and as a person whose life was severely ruptured by psychiatric drugs. She writes critically about the system, as well as about holistic pathways of healing that allow for minimizing and avoiding medication.

and this is how she changed it:

  • Monica Cassani has seen the mental healthcare system from both sides – collaborating on a team with social workers (for 10 years) and, subsequently, being a person whose life was severely ruptured by taking psychiatric drugs prescribed for her by a psychiatrist. Her award winning blog, Beyond Meds, is influential in leading consumers to effective holistic pathways of healing that minimize psychiatric medications.

Can you say micro-aggression? In a few carefully placed words I was stripped of my responsibilities and my experience. This is how oppression works. My title was, indeed, social worker more than once. That is the work that I was doing.

Definition from wikipedia:

…microaggressions as, “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative … slights and insults toward (people).”[2]

Microagression usually involves demeaning implications and other subtle insults against minorities, and may be perpetrated against those due to gendersexual orientation, and ability status.

You see those social workers I collaborated with? Well, I had the same job with the same title and the same responsibilities as they did…oops, somehow that fact is lost. The director felt a need however, unlike my employers who deemed me qualified, to differentiate me from them. I was not a social worker. They were. Never mind that my title was actually SOCIAL WORKER for more than one of my positions.

I wrote this to her,

Dear School Director,

I need to point out that the way you phrased my bio painted me as subordinate to my colleagues who had the very same title, job description and responsibilities I had.

I think you should consider that your insistence on not giving me credit for the work I did is yet another micro-aggression, that victims of psychiatry live with night and day. This is how oppression works.

I was not subordinate to my colleagues. We were equals doing the same job.You continue to underscore my patient status and undermine my personhood in doing this…like most professionals. This is deeply disappointing and I felt I needed to call you out on it…explicitly… that perhaps you might not carry the energetics of this to others that you might work with.

My name would not advertise any letters behind it. This should have made it clear that I do not have a masters degree. Being concerned about more than that seems to indicate an unhealthy concern and support of hierarchy.

About the position I just lost…it was for a school that teaches mental health professionals via CEU etc…alternatives to standard care…so it’s further discouraging and indicative of the universal oppression and ludicrous commitment to hierarchy. Too often even those professionals who fancy themselves critics of the system are engaged in demeaning those who are not viewed on a par with the “experts”. I’ve often shared how I’ve found this bigotry and prejudice among those who fancy themselves both alternative and critics of the status quo. It never stops being sickening as well as deeply disappointing. See: The divide between client/patient/consumer and professionals

My husband asked me what this person’s qualifications are. She is a PhD psychologist. He responded that the further irony is that someone who has such a degree doesn’t seem to understand the psychological implications of such treatment. She herself, in that way, underscores the meaninglessness of having the darn degree.

Lately I’ve written a lot about this in direct and not so direct ways. First I was disappointed when I approached a man whose work I greatly respected. I wrote about that here: Freaking out therapists: on being subject to the clinical gaze.

Then more recently I shared a documentary about hierarchy and it’s toxic nature. What can we learn from baboons? (THIS IS IMPORTANT) Included in that post is a link to a piece by Bruce Levine which argues that less coercive societies have less mental illness. I’d like to underscore that less coercive societies have LESS HIERARCHY.

I’m tired. It’s the middle of the night. I’m going back to bed…


About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters