A young woman in her mid-twenties recently came in for her first visit with me. Three months earlier she had experienced her first bout of anxiety and it had become more acute thereafter. She went on to explain that she had been seeing a psychiatrist who had prescribed four different psychotropic medications, simultaneously. Complaining of a blurred and disconnected feeling, she offered that she was uncertain as to whether the cause was physical, emotional and psychological—or a symptom of the gross invasion of this massive drugging.
I asked her if she had engaged in any therapy with either this psychiatrist or anyone else. “ He told me I didn’t need any therapy, just take the medication.” I gathered myself as I felt my ire arising. This medical professional seemingly appeared indifferent as to what conspired to set off this disorder and equally removed from any healing intervention, other than submitting her to an avalanche of very serious medication. I am increasingly witnessing such abhorrent behavior by many practitioners in the mental health profession.
I must note that I am not opposed to psychotropic medication; simply the indiscriminate and flagrant abuse of it. Moreover, I find the reliance upon and dominance of prescription medication over psychotherapy to be alarming.
During the course of our first meeting it become rather apparent as to why her life had unfolded in this manner and in fact, the anxiety made sense, as she had always struggled with her self value and her relentless measuring and judging of herself had more or less assured such a crisis. We are now working effectively toward reframing her beliefs and thoughts as she seeks to transform her life experience.
Depression, anxiety and other symptoms of emotional and mental distress have become so commonplace that they are literally being institutionalized. What was once considered an abnormality has now become quite normal. We should be asking why that is so. The rates of occurrence are staggering. They indicate the emergence of an epidemic. There is something terribly amiss here. This data indicates that what we refer to as mental disorder is, in fact, quite normative. It's beginning to look as if the disorder is, in fact, the order.
I am suggesting that in part it is the pathologizing of stressful, yet normal human experience, that we indeed create a culture of pathology. I would offer that what would otherwise be a normal experience of the ups and downs of being human, are now viewed through the prism of dysfunction. Every challenge and travail has a diagnostic label affixed to it and we become a nation of victims--both to the malaise and the pathologizing of what it means to be human. Having said this, there are no doubt other contributing factors to this problem—primarily cultural--- that will be the subject of my next blog.
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