We've been blogging over on Shrink Rap for just about seven years now. We've gotten to know our readers well, but one topic keeps coming up over and over: while some people are happy with the psychiatric treatments they've received and the doctors they've seen, others feel they've been mistreated in some way. They've had side effects from medications, or they've felt humiliated by insensitive words or practices they find degrading. As a psychiatrist, I can see one side of the story easily: safety is paramount, life is unpredictable. As a blogger, I've come to understand that even treatments offered with the best of intentions can cause distress, and whlle this isn't limited to psychiatry, there is a contingent of people who feel strongly. There are anti-psychiatry groups, and psychiatric "survivors," which I think is somehow different from being a cancer survivor.
While psychiatrists, I believe (and I know a lot of them) are well-intentioned and want to help people live fuller, more productive, less-symptomatic lives, our image...well, pardon my French (and not to disrespect the French, I'm using an idiom here)...our image sucks. In the media, we're the cross-dressing serial killers who eat our patients, are awkward and troubled ourselves, and now each and every one of us is a wealthy pawn of Big Pharma. Oh, my. I'm so happy my patients don't see me this way, but I've grown to appreciate that some people do. And if that's not bad enough, psychiatrists are seen as power-mongers who want to control, rather than cure, their patients. Oy. It's the civil libertarians against the shrinks, and time has made it harder and harder to secure treatment for people who are too ill to appreciate how badly they need it.