Why I Am Not A Professional ‘Heeler’?

Sometimes I feel apologies are in order for having no interest in pursuing a career, perhaps even attaining a PhD., in psychology. I have to applaud the heroic efforts of some of those, and definitely not all, who chose to do so, but it’s really not for me. I figure the mental health industry is big enough to get along without me, and I really don’t want to contribute any more to the largess of that industry than I may have unwittingly done already. In all actuality, I would like to see the numbers of people in distress shrink rather than swell the way those numbers tend to do with such predictable regularity today.

Matters used to be a lot simpler and less murkier before neurosis morphed into minor “mental illness”, and stigma was re-translated into an impediment to treatment, tongue in cheek. So-called “mental illness” represented a state that was emphatically undesirable. It was also felt to be a state that no one was condemned to inhabit for a lifetime. My how things change! Now we’ve got PACT teams for those thought to be in need of intensive treatment. The notion of incurable insanity has evolved into the notion of treatment resistant illness. Bravo, progress!

Recovery has been redefined by SAMHSA. This redefinition represents an obfuscation of the initial project, being based on the dictionary definition. You’ve now got a large group of people who go INTO recovery who never come OUT of recovery. You’ve got recover, recovers, and recovering, but few, and fewer recovered, and this incompletion explains the need for a redefinition. Hello?! The problem is two fold, it is systemic and it is chemical. Mental health professionals historically have been blaming their clients on the failures of mental health professionals. Human nature isn’t improved by drugs. Most of these psychiatric drugs are at best ineffective, and at worst downright harmful.

I’ve met so many people who were relieved to learn that they had a “mental illness”. This “mental illness” excuse explains so much about their lives, and it allows them to bill their complaints to an insurance company. It is my guess that if we want to do something about the growing epidemic we are confronting, a whole lot of people have a whole lot of unlearning to do. Any moron can develop a “mental illness” these days as entire books have been devoted to separate and specific diseases. If you don’t know how to misbehave, well, we’ve got books out now that will tell you how to misbehave. Read the literature and discover that “mental illness” is a compulsion people are not free and responsible enough to resist. Disagree, and you have an “illness”.

They used to say ‘with practice comes perfection’, the question that attends this truism is perfection of what? Do we, say, perfect our function, or our dysfunction? I’m not interested in pursuing a career in psychology precisely because I am not interested in encouraging people to practice their dysfunctions. I have known the parenthetical treatment world of chronic infirmity and inferiority, and I want to tell you that, frankly, I prefer the real world of life among equals. This parenthetic world of perpetual rehabilitation indubitably rarely leads to a rehabilitated state. Why is this so? We’re stuck pursuing the bubble of a recovery we dispute. When we embrace false hopes, the revolution in lowered expectations has become so complete, acceptance of regression is seen as progressive.

Some people are “mental illness” statistics. My reasoning for not wanting employment as a mental health professional is that I don’t want unwittingly to add to these figures. These statistics are escalating. Many human factors, and some of those human factors are professionals, are fueling this increase. The mental health system we’ve got has made it extremely difficult for some of these statistics to swim free of the net of whatever document has ensnared them. I’d like to see the numeric figures go down rather than up. I wouldn’t want to drown in a tidal swell of lost and wasted humanity, and it is my feeling that this is exactly what the contemporary mental health system has been able to achieve, a swell in the numbers of devalued people. I’d like to say that some of this lost humanity are not beyond retrieval, but I’ve got enough to consider just trying to stay clear of the coming tsunami.

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3 Responses

  1. On the subject of recovery, there is an interesting article here
    http://pb.rcpsych.org/content/23/10/621.full.pdf
    Some researchers in Bristol, England, were wanting to do some research on people who had recovered from mental illness so they asked some psychiatrists to find them some recovered patients. And the psychiatrists at first thought that would be easy but in the end they came up with a pathetically small number – 13 out of a population of nearly a quarter of a million and even those 13 turned out not to see themselves as unequivocally recovered.

    • Psychiatrists are going to identify people who have recovered!? I would cry foul. Psychiatrists are the reason why there are so many labeled people in treatment in the first place. I don’t think it is even in their interests to get people out of treatment.

      “The myth of recovery from a mental Illness” runs the title, as a opposed to the fact of non-recovery say. I take exception to this kind of thing.

      I think the conclusion is totally in error. The suggestion is that the concept of recovery derived from medical model psychiatry. I feel that the recovery model of treatment was an answer to fatalistic and ineffective medical model psychiatry instead. It was a practical response, in other words, to the very kind of thing you’re getting in this article.

      Much of the problem is systemic. The system doesn’t tend to work towards its own contraction. “Mental health”, in effect, is discharge from the “mental health system” in which people have gotten the “mental patient” role down so pat. Were we to stop talking in medical terms, then you’re going to see less “sickness”, “sickness” being a medical term itself.

      I think there are plenty of fully recovered people out there. Getting them to admit it, well, there’s a task. This kind of a survey could be conducted in other places, too. I know we’ve got a very active recovery movement in this country, and it would be interesting to see how some of its leadership would respond to such questions.

  2. Good post.

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