Psychiatry and the “I know best” attitude

Today I ran across one of the biggest problems I personally have with the mental health system – a doctor that has no respect for his patient. It was a crushing experience.

I don’t like being talked over. It’s one of those things that *really* bothers me. So when I am in tears before he who has the power, and I try to tell him that it’s because he keeps cutting across me, I hope for some sort of suggestion on how to work together so that I don’t feel ignored and disrespected. “I’m not cutting across you, and I have to, otherwise we’ll be here all day telling stories” is not calculated to engender co-operation. But he has the power, so I bite my tongue.

I don’t like being told that the starting doses of my meds are ‘nothing’. I’ve been on them all of five days, and I’m prone to side effects,so I titrate slowly to try and keep those side effects under control and let my body adjust. But you don’t know that, and so you tell me my treatment is not treatment. I feel dismissed.

When I ask a question about the medications you want to put me on, I am not challenging your knowledge or your authority. You don’t need to reel off your qualifications, and you don’t need to tell me that my “trying to treat myself” just complicates things. I’m not trying to treat myself. I only want to understand what your plans are, so I can understand what’s happening to me. You’re the expert, but I’m not stupid. I want to understand my own treatment.

I don’t want to feel patronised, insulted, talked down to, ignored, and disrespected. I’m trusting you with my body and my mind, and you can help me rebuild or you can break me. I deserve to be treated like an adult with a part to play in my own health, not like an errant child.

I always fear beginning over with a new mental health professional. This sort of thing is why. It’s far too common.


5 thoughts on “Psychiatry and the “I know best” attitude

  1. Nigel McNie (@nigelmcnie)

    Having been present at this appointment as a support person, I can testify that it was a complete train wreck.

    Judith has had a different psychiatrist for the last few months, and he has been excellent – listening well, explaining treatments, been understanding about side effects and all with the attitude that Judith is an adult, capable of understanding her treatments.

    Today’s appointment, with a new psychiatrist, was a disaster. Everything she said actually happened, and more. The man just lacked any basic empathy, or patience. He hadn’t fully read the notes. And, my god, the condescending attitude! The last psychiatrist noticed when Judith or I wasn’t happy about something. This guy dealt with crying by getting defensive.

    Psychiatrists, your attitude matters. Judith is a normal woman who has an illness, not a child.

  2. Pingback: Psychiatrists and the “I Know Best” Attitude, revisited | Drop Bear Exterminator

  3. Pingback: Running out of options | Drop Bear Exterminator

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