Sunday, 26 February 2012

Dr Hugh Middleton on Mad in America

On my post of a couple of days ago, 'Juggling', an anonymous comment led me to Hugh Middleton's article on the Mad in America site.  I just got around to reading the piece, and it is indeed hopeful - Dr Middleton sees that the system is badly failing people, and makes the point that as a result young medical students are increasingly reluctant to specialise in psychiatry.

A comment at the end of the piece, by somebody who seems to be blaming psychiatrists for causing the problem, seemed to be slightly unfair.  The person who commented says that there are plenty of medical students in America wishing to specialise in psychiatry, because it is a lucrative practice.  This may be true, but I would be surprised if there are many medical practitioners (if any) who don't at least start their career by wanting the best for their patients - although over time it is perfectly possible that they become disillusioned or somehow immune to properly understanding the human factor in mental health breakdowns. 

So I couldn't resist adding my thoughts to the mix, and made myself smile in the process... here's the link:

I always had a lot of respect for doctors - that is probably why I took the pills for so long... But I was thinking about that today - and it occurred to me that really they are not that special - they just chose to study medicine, instead of another subject.  They are not Gods, after all....

Nowadays, it is much easier to acquire knowledge through the internet, which evens out the playing field quite a lot.  But we still need to follow certain routes when we are unwell, and it is useful to us if we can start from the point that medical professionals are there with the intention of helping, although they may be misguided in their application of that help.  Of course, there is no harm in healthy scepticism (I have realised since reading today's Mad in America column by Bruce Levine  that I am definitely anti-authoritarian)  but we should not let this blind us to the good in people.  We all need to educate ourselves and each other, and then maybe one day the system will change - both from the inside out, and from the outside in.

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