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bmurray March 21st, 2005 11:35 AM

Workshop psychologists, psychiatrists & clients
[Do you think it would be helpful for mental health professionals to initiate a work shop with stable bipolars, unipolar depressives, neurotics etc. to analyze the experience of being "insane" i.e taking the clients point of view into consideration without having to "fix" the client ? I mean not having to deal with the "side effects" of a client -doctor relationship ? Or do you think clients would not be able to step "aside" and be objective about the craziness ?

I just think it is impossible for someone who does not have a mental illness to understand what is going on underneath the surface. One person who attempted to write about her own mental illness was Kay Redfield Jamison with her book "An Unquiet Mind". This book reflected her own experience with insanity. I was thankful that somebody dared to talk about her experience of living with bipolar disorder.

Any ideas, suggestions and true feelings about the possibility of working alongside a "crazy" person on the same level would be greatly appreciated. Please do not hold back- we are not in therapy

Barbara ;)

Da Friendly Puter Tech March 21st, 2005 03:17 PM

Re: Workshop psychologists, psychiatrists & clients
Hmm, I think, first of all it would be necessary to have a definition of "mental illness".

Most people - I would even say especially therapists - have a few "issues" that can from a medical point of view be diagnosed as mental illness. Yet, they live productive lives. Quite a few people in the mental health field has been influenced by mental illness as described in the medical model as well.

Is anyone who takes meds for anxiety or depression mentally ill? How about folks that deal with transient experiences that can be categorized as an anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder, or trauma related disorder? Are they mentally ill? How about folks who are depressed due to environmental influences, are they mentally ill? Havent we all dealt with issues like that at some point in our lives?

Just last weekend I was in a situation where by the end of the weekend I was sleep deprived, exhausted, overly excited and anxious. I then had to go and cook a big dinner for a family get together. I love cooking and it has the comfortable rythm of something I do well and something I do habitually. Not surprisingly cooking the dinner made me feel significantly less overwhelmed and probably allowed me to sleep much more relaxed than if I had stayed in that overwhelmed state of mind. That is the exact same effect though that people with obsessive compulsive disorder deal with. The desire to do something repetitive as a way to deal with anxiety. People with OCD take that function quite a bit further than I did, but I can certainly understand the OCD frame of mind just using my own every day experience.

In my mind people who are mentally ill takes experiences or thought processes we all understand to a bit of an further extreme. Finding the root of the things we would all understand is part of a good therapist's job.

For instance most people can understand wondering if "they are talking about me" in some situations. A psychotic person might take that a bit further and be absolutely convinced "they are talking about me, and I can hear it in my head". While the psychotic experience seems outside of the "normal" realm I bet we can all relate to the nervousness about being talked about.

Da Friendly Puter Tech

bmurray March 21st, 2005 05:18 PM

Re: Workshop psychologists, psychiatrists & clients
maybe we are all crazy to a certain degree; thus there might be no need to point "it" out by giving out dx's according to the DSM-IV.

I really don't know what the politically correct term for "mentally ill" is. I apologize but English is not my mother tongue. We are all equally crazy only that the defense mechanism of the ones with a DSM-IV dx are more intense ?! Everyone who has experienced psychosis either drug-induced or mania-induced or as a result of schizophrenia knows how scary & intense & overwhelming it can be. There are tons of mental health care workers, nurses and doctors who just think "oh God another crazy nut to take care of" "Some Haldol please"...end of story. The client is left alone with his or her disturbing thoughts struggling to stay (in) sane through the experience.

Yes, they are a lot of bipolars et all who are productive; however, the loneliness that comes with insanity is sickening. DBT and CBT work fine for minor incidences but not when things become bizzare & one really needs an empathetic therapist or psychiatrist to get through the horror. Reality is that the therapist is even more scared than the client because he/she thinks that the client might do stupid. Then therapy turns into a big negotiation about going to the hospital or not-not helping clients with the fear and agony.

Everyone is welcome who has had to deal with intense emotions. Sorry I am at a lack of words to describe my idea.
Gruss Barbara

Da Friendly Puter Tech March 24th, 2005 01:48 PM

Re: Workshop psychologists, psychiatrists & clients
Hey Barbara,

I think I see where you are coming from. There is sometimes an apparent conflict between severely mentally ill patients and their caretakers. There are multiple reasons for this, although I think few of them pertains to the workers just "not understanding".

For instance in the case of suicidal patients there is often divergent goals in the relationship between a mental health care worker and patient. The patient wants the pain to STOP right now no matter what the cost. The worker wants the patient to stay alive right now no matter what. Conflicting goals creates conflict in the relationship.

In the case of psychotic patients in the hospital who are in the grips of hallucinations most of the nurses and doctors working there has seen it all many times, are overworked, tired and thus their available supply of compassion might be minimal. This doesnt mean they dont "understand", it means they have limited strength with which to be empathic.

Another thing to point out is that mentally ill people are usually so deep into whatever mental illness rules them at that moment that by definition they will feel isolated and misunderstood. It goes with the experience of mental illness. This does not mean that the people around them necessarily dont understand - although it might. It can also mean that they are simply lost in the mental illness and that is what causes the experienced isolation.

Finally, the real work towards betterment and healing rarely happens in crisis situations when a person is acutely psychotic or suicidal. It often happens after some stabilization has been attained, and the patient can engage in a healing relationship with a professional. That situation is very different from acute crisis situations in hospitals etc.

All of this said though - I have no doubt that mentally ill patients across the country suffers deeply with the isolation and pain that goes with their condition. I wish we had a better and more human system with which to help folks with these kinds of disabilities. I will pledge to continue to be active in this field, and do my very best to leave my finger print on the field - hopefully helping some betterment along the way.

Da Friendly Puter Tech

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