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Monday, March 09, 2009

My experience with two good psychiatrists - Rebecca Riley

This is part of a comment Matthew did at Furious Seasons at the post Philip did on Rebecca Riley case:
"I strongly suspect that when Rebecca Riley was presented to the shrink, at age 2, the parents conveniently neglected to mention the behaviour that they were exhibiting that was causing Rebecca to exhibit the behaviour that they were complaining of (God alone knows how fucked up the parents are)."

I was lucky when I had the "nervous-breakdown" that led me to a psychiatrist. He was not only a prescriber but someone who knew not only to listen to the patient but could see or take a glimpse at the history behind the patient.
He hardly asked for my symptoms but I could notice that he looked with attention but didn't lack elegance: he didn't stare at me as if I was a "case", he didn't sit at the other side of the table: he looked other way but I could feel he was paying attention at everything.
My father and mother don't see each other but I don't remember what I did and they went together the first time. He noticed every detail of each one of them and I believe he did some mental notices on that.
He had a psychiatric clinic, it was at the this clinic I went, and was very pro-drug but was a dignified and highly clever man who payed attention on what was said and what was not said.
He saw clearly that although I lived by myself, that family was something... let's say strange and it has affected me in a way that it was a little hard to take.
He said to me, I almost said nothing on the first day and he only decided what to do a few sessions after, that what I needed was therapy and that he even didn't know if I was depressive.
I was very frighten because I never did picture myself needing psychiatric help, who does?, and I had already seen the cold faces of some psychiatrist when a very close person had to be hospitalized because after one year of depression he went to mania phase for the first time.
At that time I used to read a lot of philosophy, literature and art history it was part of my life, as it still is but I'm not reading too much lately.
I remember one of the sessions I talked to him about some philosophers who I used to read who also had concerns with psychiatry.
The man talked to me for hours about other issues and I remember him talking about Nietzsche and the way her sister Elizabeth tried to manipulate his work so that it could be read as a Nazi. The last thing he told me was:
"But this is politics. I don't have time for politics. I have to take care of my patients."
He was a really bright man.
The only problem was that the benzos I took was not helping me and at that time they started to prescribe clonazepam for anxiety. By the time I needed a psychiatrist to get out off clonazepam he was already dead.
That was the second problem. I went to a psychiatrist that prescribed my diazepam and some time after Tofranil who made me feel extremely anxious.
I went to another psychiatrist and the symptoms started to be seem as diseases. It was when I started my life as a psychiatric patient.
I went to numerous psychiatrists and went into numerous drugs.
I had one chance: my father went with me to a psychiatrist who was also a psychoanalyst. He said I was highly medicated and needed to get out of the drugs.
I also noticed that he payed attention on what my father was saying and his behaviour. He also payed attention to me but he did it ostensibly - nobody is perfect - ...
I'm sure if at that time I was treated by this psychiatrist he would not do what the woman who helped me get out of all that drugs did: prescribed Effexor after reaching the end of the whole withdrawal process.
I have noticed that most psychiatrists I went don't pay attention on anything else than the symptom checking.
They know nothing about culture and other parts of knowledge that are vital for the good practice of such an important work: dealing with emotional problems and all the aspects of human suffering. Some of them don't even learn from their own clinical experiences.
Rebecca Riley would not be dead at the age of 4-years-old two years after taking
clonidine, Seroquel and Depakote if she was seen by a good professional.

8 comments:

Anonymous Drifter said...

I've been going to the same psychiatrist for 14 years. She doesn't delve into my history too much. She basically asks questions about my current symptoms and decides whether she's going to adjust my medication.

Radagast said...

I wrote another comment on Philip's thread, a short while ago. At the time, I saw it so clearly in my mind - pictured it, you know, like an epiphany.

In words, this is what I saw:

1. We learn *very quickly*;
2. In a new environment, in the absence of a mentor who will answer our every question, we are obliged to copy what we see around us, in order to assimilate ourselves into the environment - to be useful, to be loved, to understand what is required of us;
3. If the behaviour of those around us is behaviour that they would disapprove of, were it done to them (the behaviour of a bully, for example), then we will find ourselves in deep shit, if we copy that behaviour;
4. What chance has a child got, in an environment full of bullies, where, in trying to fit in, the child screams and shouts and kicks and tries to humiliate, generally?
5. The child, in attempting to fit in, becomes the focus of aggression, possibly firing off trigger events in the minds of those around him/her, thus leading to more violence.
6. The child, whilst (s)he is doing exactly the same as those around him/her, finds his/her behaviour constantly invalidated. How confusing is that likely to be? (S)he's doing what nature would have her do: mirror; she's validating the behaviour of those around her by copying them. And yet, because (s)he is mirroring universally acknowledged damaged behaviour, she will told that she is wrong, when by any logical measure, she is doing absolutely the right thing.
7. And then, the parents, not realizing what was going on, and that they would be indicting themselves by the act, admitted their own behaviour by accusing her of it, in front of a shrink. And the shrink, of course, didn't know what (s)he was looking at.

I may be wrong (but I don't think so) - that's what I saw, anyway. What an absolute cluster fuck.

Matt

Untreatableonline said...

when I first met my mental doctor he said that he was there just to prescribe medication and not to do talk therapy. Out of the five other therapists the only one that lasted longer then three visits was the hospital shrink but once I left the ward she was not able to see me due to hospital restrictions. The other therapists stopped the second they found out about my self harm history. Since then when I have tried to see another "professional" once the word Borderline comes out their door slams shut. Unfortunately the therapuetic community seems to be filled with people from the dark ages of psychology. Take care

Ana said...

Anonymous Drifter,
This is what psychiatry has turned into. The vast majority only care about symptoms ans prescription.

Matthew,
Perhaps there are too ways of dealing with strange environments: trying to copy it or trying to do the opposite and both are quite an ordeal.
I had to create my code of ethics, among other things, but I guess it depends on every individual to try to cope with this according to their way and being.
I believe that whether you copy it or try to go the other way can make one becomes the focus of aggression like you said.
I agree with you in everything I just want to add the possibility of not copying and trying as hard as possible not to be like them.
Both "solutions" brings pain.
I have other things at the back of my mind related to what you're saying but I just woke up and I'm still trying to remember how to make coffee. :)
I'll take a cold shower and my mind will comes back as bright as it always is... lol

Untreatableonline,
I believe that nowadays it is the way psychiatrist must present themselves "I can only prescribe. I am not a therapist."
You are so right when you say that once borderline, self harming and even "mania" is brought up the doors close!
However there are exceptions.
If you go to Clinically Clueless blog you will see how she is being helped by a therapist.
She is also very good in analyzing herself.
But we know that emotion prevails. Reason never wins even when we know what to do.
I really hope you find someone to help you.
I will visit your blog as soon as I finally wake up.
Take care!

Radagast said...

Well, yes: when one finds that simply copying the behaviour doesn't work, one will start to look for other solutions, but one will be doing so without any guidance from those around one, because they're stuck in a behavioural pattern that has never permitted alternatives. In other words, they're incapable of providing assistance, even if they wanted to, because they have no understanding themselves.

Just imagine: no experience, no resources, no assistance, trying to deconstruct a completely fucked situation, in order that one can avoid the horror of it. But there is no solution, because the objective of those around one, established over long years, is to find a person who can't fight back, and do exactly the same to them, as was done to them. It's at that point of realization that the "victim" (hitherto), starts to become angry, and the anger gets colder, and colder, the better (s)he understands the problem.

Whilst the bully might believe that his/her victim has no way out, such that they may treat them as they please, it should also be realized that the bully has no way out, either, and no amount of re-enacting their experiences is ever going to change that. And the reason for this is simple: the bully is completely unable to see his/her victim as being absolutely identical to him/her, because if (s)he could, it would be impossible for him/her to want to harm him/herself, wouldn't it?

And so, we continue, repeating our mistakes. How Rebecca Riley must have suffered, before she died - stupid, vicious little monkeys. I think I'm going to see if I can bring down the profession of psychiatry, just for that, because it should have known better, and seeing as it didn't, it should have acknowledged that.

Matt

Ana said...

I understand Matthew, and get as angry as you.
While I was reading you I was thinking about me and I realized that I did the GodDamn work Matt.
I did fight back.
My parents fear me. My father once said "I fear a content with you."
That's one of the reasons he does not see me. He has his own issues and I understand him in a way.
It was hard, hard and hard.
But I did it all by myself with dignity and paying high for not following their paths.
I'm a winner. I'm crying because it's not everyday that we remember all our effort to BE.
I don't have money. That's the only thing they can through at my face and my big weakness.
But I rather be without money than having it the way they wanted to.
Jesus! This things moves us more than we imagine.
I own you an answer.
Now I have to cool down because looking the road I crossed - I've just remember one of my friends when I was at College saying to me "I have an "aunt" that lives as if it was her and the world." -
He was signing the way I lived with elegance.
It's too hot!
I'll read you again with objectivity.

Radagast said...

Well, money is a fiction, as far as I can make out: if Humankind ceased to exist, so would money. In other words, money is not intrinsic to the function of the planet, in any way. Money, like most things, is controlled quite closely, and the people who control it are, I think, amongst the most fearful on Earth, because without money, they cannot define themselves. In other words, without money and the things that they believe money will buy, they cease to exist, in their own minds.

People who need to control others are telling you their own story. Trust me: that's not a place that you want to go, because there is never enough of that sort of control. And one may only turn one's charges into automatons, because one is never able to explain what it is that one wants.

Matt

Ana said...

Wow!
I also believe that those who have money are the most fearful.
There is too much money in this world.
Neoliberalism did a good work in making money but... we are in crisis?
Strange. Very strange. There is no money for health, for food, for housing...
That is strange if we think the amount of money that are in the hands of people we don't know.

"People who need to control others are telling you their own story. Trust me: that's not a place that you want to go, because there is never enough of that sort of control. And one may only turn one's charges into automatons, because one is never able to explain what it is that one wants."

What can I say more?
Thank you for that Matt!

Ana