Monday, December 20, 2010

One Asshole Headshrink

I saw lots of psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors when I was young.  Most of them were completely clueless, a couple were fairly decent.  None of them "helped" me in any recognizable way.  In fact, very few of them seemed to identify any real "problem" that I needed help with, and not one convinced me of it.  All they did was hear my parents say they were having problems, and slap the "label of the day" on me.

First I was Hyperactive.
Then I was ADD with Hyperactivity.
And I was given an amphetamine that has now proven to cause serious developmental problems in children (funny, because it's only prescribed to children).

I can't help wondering if THEY ever wondered, "maybe the reason this child can't pay attention to me is because I'm boring, and he doesn't want to?"
Nah.  Probably not.  Their own psychological defenses would have prevented that.

Later on, and for many years, I was prone to pretty severe outbursts whenever I was angry or frustrated.  This was, of course, very annoying (to me too) so I saw other "experts" about it.

One very nice doctor finally hooked me up to a variety of wires and suction cups, spent entirely too much time trying various drugs on me (I was taking a whole handful of pills, at one point as many as seven, three times daily, and having blood drawn and tested sometimes twice a day... I think this explains the tattoos), and gave me the latest contemporary label:
Manic Depressive.

I was given more drugs, of course.
Sometimes I even took them.

I remember lots of sessions with this doctor, who I remember quite fondly, and other members of his team.
We talked at great length about my behaviors, my potential, and my feelings.  We discussed strategies for changing that behavior, reaching the potential, and better controlling the feelings.  (By the way, they only worked when they were my idea, but any shrink can tell you that.)

There are things I DON'T remember...
Like how that doctor (and his team) never once sought to find out much about my home life, or my real history.  (Well, we talked about how much I hated my step-dad, but not in much of a productive way.)
He never found out, because he didn't really attempt to, that I had never been taught - never been encouraged, or even allowed - to deal PROPERLY with things that made me angry.
This had caused a compounding problem... just BEING angry or frustrated and not being able to deal with it properly made me MORE angry or frustrated.  Any surprise it led to outbursts?
I don't even have a PHD, and it doesn't surprise me.  Doc wouldn't have been surprised either, had he bothered to find out.

(To any aspiring headshrinks...  you can't just OBSERVE CURRENT BEHAVIOR and think you know anything.  And don't DO anything, with drugs or psychological methods, until you KNOW something.)

By the way, this isn't necessarily a criticism of my parents (well, aside from the fact that the aforementioned step-dad was the cause of 90% of my anger and frustration).  MOST people don't really know how to properly deal with situations that make them angry... how are you supposed to teach your child something you probably don't know yourself?

So really, I'm not "Manic Depressive" (no, this isn't just a self-diagnosis, even though I have respect for self-diagnosis).  I don't have an "anger problem."  Just because for a long time I felt anger or frustration more intensely than I should have it doesn't mean I had a "chemical imbalance" or something wrong with my brain.
We have behaviors we learn, and behaviors we don't.
Sometimes we learn things later than we should, sometimes we never learn.  And I've both learned and continue to.

But here's the problem...
The fucking LABEL.

There's something that happens to OTHER people once you've been labeled:
They cease to be able to see you as "normal."  Their perspective becomes skewed.
When someone knows (thinks/heard the label) I'm Manic Depressive, ANY negative emotion or reaction I have, or statement I make, is BECAUSE OF Manic Depression.  It's like it's not physically possible for me to have a normal reaction to negative stimuli (regardless of what the reaction itself may be). In fact, any "stimuli" whatsoever is completely dismissed by the biased observer.

Every single person in the world reacts emotionally and behaviorally to stimuli.  Most people do so appropriately to a degree.  Bad or negative experiences make us angry or put us in a bad mood.  Good ones make us happy.
Not me.
The only reason I can possibly be angry, or in a bad mood, is because I'm "Manic Depressive."  Whether or not things are going my way today, or something bad or frustrating has happened to me is completely out of the question.  Not even figured into the equation.
And the messed up part is that this is the case even though the "outbursts" have gone away.  I can't, calmy and politely, say "you know, that kinda pissed me off and I'd like to talk about it."  Even THAT is "being Manic Depressive."  (Pretty convenient if you happen to be in a relationship of some kind with a "Manic Depressive" and are less than perfect yourself.)
Just having a negative feeling is a symptom, not an effect.
And guess what?  That's frustrating as hell, too.

So I don't know where I'm going with this.
I'm kinda done, just ranting a bit.
But there is a point.  If, that is, anyone who's a shrink or aspires to be one reads this (or, I guess, if you interact with someone who's been labeled).

I know that "doctor-patient confidentiality" doesn't pertain to anyone who has a legal guardian (children, "mentally unfit").  But when that's the situation, remember that psychological labels (and other illnesses, I'm sure) affect more than one person.  When that's the case, be hesitant to give a person a "label."
The label itself may just cause more problems in a person's life than the "mental illness" you think they have.

Alright... that paragraph was for the doctors.
For anyone else who has a "labeled" person in their life, here's one for you:
Remember, even if someone you love has a real mental illness, it's not ALL THEY ARE.  No one is 100% mentally whacked....  they're ALSO NORMAL.  SOME times their behaviors, feelings and thoughts are influenced by actual, real experiences just like yours.  Do them a favor... don't treat them like they're crazy when they're not.
You'll be a lot more helpful that way, if you can be, and a lot less frustrating if you can't.

8 comments:

  1. Some times those who suffer from such afflictions are simply bombarded by the spiritual world. We found my daughter's "anger" issues could be attributed to her being an empath. Now that we know, she can properly shield herself from others, and thus not pick up their shit, and lose control of herself. What we found may not work for everyone, but in our family, it worked perfectly. Just wish they wouldn't medicate children without digging a little deeper, especially when we will need the newest generation of Star, Crystal, and Indigo children to be well adjusted and mentally intact.

    Barbara

    ReplyDelete
  2. But... but... Amphetamines are the answer, right?

    And most people, I think, really don't believe in Indigo children.
    (Just don't ask me why I turn streetlights on and off by just my proximity to them.)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't even know what an indigo child is, am interested. Was very thankful that you didn't mention bad mothers!

    ReplyDelete
  4. My best friend suffers from bipolar disorder and clinical depression. How does she deal with it? She has taken a few past life regression sessions and dealt with issues that have plagued her in this life. She gets her chakras balanced, by either me or another practitioner, and she meditates. These have basically cured her of the bipolar, but every now and again, her depression creeps up. When that happens, we do some chakra work and voila, she's fine again. Everything response we have to other people, certain situations, and even ourselves can be attributed to the lives we've led before. I have found peace with my ex-husband after a past life regression showed me who he was to me in another time/place. My relationship with my mother is improving due to doing the same thing. Sometimes we have to go backwards in order to move forwards. Yes, there are many people out there who do suffer from legitimate mental issues, but why does our society immediately jump on the medication bandwagon and "label" us something so they can fit us in a specific box? It would help so many to dig a little deeper, search farther back than just infancy or birth, and maybe stretch the borders of knowledge beyond what we can see and touch. It's amazing what one finds when one actually searches.

    Barbara

    ReplyDelete
  5. Michael, you really have a lot of insight and I think you are fundamentally correct. My wife is manic-depressive and has her masters degree in counseling psychology.
    All counselors are not bad or ineffective, but many are. Also many people we encounter use advice as power and control mechanisms. Anybody who says "I am telling you this for your own good," is probably trying to victimize you.
    Finally, one characteristic many manic-depressives have is increased intelligence and that is more scary to many people than being a manic-depressive.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks, Ed, for your very thoughtful post.

    I have mixed thoughts about the psychological profession.
    I believe quite strongly in the science, even though it's still far from "exact," and have studied it quite a bit through various methods ("study," observation, personal reflection, "just thinking"...)

    I definitely don't think that all psychologists are "good," especially these days when we have single drugs that can "treat" (read: suppress) a variety of problems...
    I've done and observed a LOT of "jobs," and from my observation Psychology is probably THE EASIEST profession to "take the easy way out" in: "When in doubt, just prescribe Prozac. We don't know why, but it seems to work. Oh, and cause thoughts of suicide."

    But at the same time, it's a hell of a conundrum... Books ON psychology, and any decent psychologist, will tell you that it's the farthest from a "hands on" job as is possible.
    When done PROPERLY, the psychologist doesn't "do" anything at all, they encourage YOU to figure it out and "do" it yourself. In fact, that's the only way it works.

    That's gotta be stressful, hehe... psychologically, for the practitioner. How do you do that? How do you feel "right" about it, since at best you're being manipulative?

    One book I read had a whole section dealing with the "problem" of charging people good money, making a living, to do NOTHING.
    Frankly, while I'm extremely interested in the science and subject, I certainly wouldn't want the "job." I like to do direct, purposeful actions with predictable, intended results.

    So, "bad or ineffective?"
    Bad is one thing, but even the best psychologist can only hope to be "effective" SOMETIMES. TRULY effective? Rarely, if not never.
    The "best" they can usually hope for isn't a "cure," but to help people COPE with their problems. Or forget them (which the psychologist knows is the worst thing you can do).

    ReplyDelete
  7. As far as the last paragraph, I have mixed feelings/ideas and a completely different perspective:

    I think MANY people are misdiagnosed as "Manic Depressive."
    Like I said, almost every person I've known has displayed behaviors or feelings that could mean they're Manic Depressive at least SOME times. Especially the smart people.

    "Smart" tends to mean that you "see" more, understand more, about the world around you. Guess what? The "world" is pretty messed up, and very few of our personal lives are going the way we'd truly like (or need, know it or not) them to be.
    These facts are frustrating.
    Being smart enough to be constantly AWARE of these facts causes one to be frustratED.
    And when nothing changes, for whatever reasons, that's the way you stay.
    (This is the meaning behind the saying "ignorance is bliss.")

    There's a very well known psychological concept about what happens when you keep something "bottled in." "Bottled in" is the same thing as "always there," so being constantly aware of "this/my world sucks" has the same effect as bottling in.

    Being CONSTANTLY frustrated will make even the perfectly normal person eventually and occasionally "snap." When you "snap," you lose your conscious control, revert to your own instinctual or learned behavior... you scream, cry, use nasty language, cower into yourself, maybe lash out physically... which appears on the surface to be the same behavior as a genuine Manic Depressive.

    So yeah, ALL of the smartest people I've known have been at least as Manic Depressive as I am (or "major depression"), and frankly I'm not.

    But on the other hand, "scary" manic depressives?
    I agree, but here's my thoughts on it:
    "Smart" and "Manic Depressive" make an interesting partnership.
    Manic Depressive means, pretty much, "miserable a lot of the time," psychologically anyway. And it means more sensitive and emotionally reactive to negative stimuli.
    Smart means, among other things, "acutely aware of stimuli."
    And smart, observant people also tend to learn to manipulate. (After all, it's not really all that difficult.)

    So when you're miserable a lot (consciously or not), and you know how to manipulate, what happens?
    First of all, you begin to try to manipulate your environment to be less stressful. This is, of course and if done in a constructive manner, a good thing.
    But once "manipulation" becomes a habit, like an actual way of life, it's hard to NOT do it (and one begins doing it unconsciously, non-purposefully). One begins to manipulate not only situations, but PEOPLE.

    And hey, we ALL like to be, or think we are, in control of ourselves. So anyone who would manipulate us (whether we realize that's what it is or not) scares us.

    And then this leads into my most important subject, though I won't get into it now, "Manipulation."
    What's scariest to me is when the manipulation itself gets so good, so subtle, that we don't realize that's what it is... instead of being "scared" by it, we give in to it willingly, do exactly what it wants us to do, and cease to be free individuals making our own choices.

    Personally, I've learned to stop manipulating people. I have no interest in it.
    Manipulating my ENVIRONMENT works extremely well, and one way that I do that is NOT by manipulating negative-influence PEOPLE in my life (which is a very inefficient use of energy), but simply removing those people from my life... allowing them to be who they are, just not around me.

    The experiences and stimuli that I CAN manipulate in my life, without violating my ethics and principles, are manipulated to make them good influences. The "bad" influences that I CAN'T manipulate, or can't do so without violating my morals, are simply discarded... without hesitation or regret.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great read...thank you.

    Here's a link for "Mom" :) http://www.crystalinks.com/childrensic.html

    I believe that all labels are lame and that I should not give anyone "God control" over my life and what I put into my body. Of course, as I child I was stuck in this belief system thrust upon me by every adult that crossed my path...and these adults were just doing their very best with all that they had thrust upon them throughout their time here on earth.
    I went to the doc in 2002 and said that I was "blah". I had everything I needed and so very much more and FELT that I SHOULD be happy. She labeled me "depressive" and put me on anti-depressants. It was all for naught I believe today. Nothing that a spiritual life could not cure. I was finding a void where there was none. I was seeing lack in place of the abundance which is the reality (not based on physical possessions). I was not living free...I was in bondage of my own manipulation and control. Of course I was "blah" and then some. I was spiritually sick and not practicing the values and morals I believed to be TRUE and correct. I was in stuck and stagnant in darkness...I am so grateful for the pain that resulted in a rebirth and a reliance on a loving and forgiving God unlike any I had known in my youth caught in a Catholic upbringing where God was portrayed to me as punishing and unforgiving. I was guilted and shamed - almost to death. Oh yeah, and as my friend tells me...normal is only a setting on a washing machine...there is no such thing as "normal" (another label!) person!
    Love your bit on "manipulation" as well as I was a great, great manipulator & can so relate.
    Today I yearn to live in "love" because all is truly Love or a call for Love (FEAR!).
    :))))

    ReplyDelete