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A Psychiatrist Against Psychiatry?

Psychiatry | Hope Counseling

Thomas Szaz’s book The Myth Of Mental Illness, published in 1961, was a spearhead for the “Antipsychiatry” movement and created a coalition whose voice is still loud today.

 

Essentially the antipsychiatry movement believed that psychiatry was being used to control, label and stigmatize people who exhibited what society might call “deviant” behavior, but were no threat to themselves or others. They thought that traditional psychiatrists were in league with the pharmaceutical companies, whose main goal was to over-medicate those who simply did not “fit in”, to make them manageable. They did not believe in the concept of “mental illness”, abhorred the term, and thought that psychiatry was not based on empirical evidence and fact and could not prove real “brain illness” in most people.

 

The “nature vs nurture” argument was not a quandary for those against psychiatry. Nurture and environment were responsible for unacceptable and self-destructive behaviors in their opinions, and they thought that counseling and education could eradicate the issue. “Problems in living” was the phrase Szaz used. They even believed that the use of psychiatric diagnoses in the legal system was unconstitutional. A lot of social activists jumped on the bandwagon.

 

At the time this movement was at its height, psychiatry was going through a major transition. Freud was being debunked, and the foundations of traditional psychiatry were cracked. According to Benedict Carey, writer for the New York Times, in his obituary of Thomas Szaz, “Dr. Szaz argues against the use of coercive treatments, like involuntary confinement, and the use of psychiatric diagnoses in the courts, calling both practices unscientific and unethical.”

 

Szaz was a professor at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, and while there he wrote hundreds of articles, books and essays including Ideology and Insanity: Essays on the Psychiatric Dehumanization of Man.

 

Thomas Szaz allied himself with the Church of Scientology in 1969 to found the Citizens Commission on Human Rights which, Carey goes on to say, “portrays the field (of psychiatry) as abusive, and regularly pickets psychiatric meetings.” This move for Dr. Szaz damaged his credibility and he eventually put some distance between himself and Scientologists. But, as a result, he was denied a position in a teaching hospital which trained psychiatric residents.

 

Unfortunately for Dr. Szaz, his soapbox has been all but eclipsed by the practices of modern psychiatry, with advanced technologies providing the bases for diagnostics, and more effective medications with fewer side effects. While mental illness still carries a stigma with it, more and more sufferers are living full, happy, and healthy lives because of the advances in psychiatry. The vast majority of psychiatrists are caring and ethical professionals, who do not over-prescribe, and are interested in giving a mentally ill person more than just maintenance.

 

Rethinking Mental Illness

Mental Health and mental illness | Hope Counseling

 

All throughout history, individuals with mental illnesses have been marginalized, if not brutalized and shunned. In ancient times, the mentally ill were often seen as possessed by demons, or in league with the devil, and as a result, were put to death. It is a sad commentary on world perception, that the mentally ill are still stigmatized, living as the outsiders among us, considered to be not “normal”, and sometimes dangerous.

 

People tend to fear what they don’t understand, and unfortunately, the mentally ill are still all too often misunderstood, and thought to be people to avoid. They are considered to be “strange”, “weird” and “crazy”. As a result, their lives are often lived in secret, and they seek no help or support. Even people who are well-educated have many misconceptions about mental illness, and frequently, it is up to the mentally ill to teach the rest of us what it’s really about.

 

That mental illness is physiological, that there is frequently medication involved in treatment, and there is a “diagnosis”, a label placed on the mentally ill person, that label oftentimes follows that person all her life. People say of the mentally ill, “She is a schizophrenic”, and instead of the schizophrenic saying “I have schizophrenia”, she will tell others, “I am schizophrenic”, thus identifying the totality of who she is with her illness. She takes societal stigma and judgment and places it on herself. Society’s stereotype becomes her own. She has become her illness. It is so counter-intuitive to her potential wellness.

 

The truth is that the those who live with mental illnesses are us. They often continue to live lives that are full and meaningful. They want to love and be loved and accepted, and to feel useful – that they matter. They want to be seen as more than just one part of who they are. They can be intelligent and creative and productive. And they walk this earth, not as outsiders or ghosts, but as human beings, the just the same as regular people. They only need the chance to become as fully realized as they can be. For that chance, it is up to us to educate ourselves and in doing so, to eradicate the terrible stigma that has followed people with mental illness for too long.

 

Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, and bi-polar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and several other mental illnesses are difficult to live with, but can also be overcome. For those that suffer these illnesses, it’s possible to live a completely normal life, without revealing that the illness is present. On one hand, this is great because it allows the person to live without prejudice. On the other hand, it forces them to be underground about their symptoms.

 

The solution is to allow change the way we think about mental illness. It can be scary and unpredictable. But at the root, it can be simply another hurdle for us to overcome. Diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders is paramount.

Scared to see a counselor?

 

Being scared to seek counseling is really common. After all, we’ve been taught that we should solve our own problems! Sometimes overcoming the realization that we need help isn’t an easy thing to do. Even if whatever your challenge is isn’t serious, admitting that we can’t fix the situation ourselves is difficult. Maybe you know what you should be doing, but you aren’t motivated to do it. Maybe you’ve just got a couple roadblocks to overcome. Whatever it is, you’re thinking that talking it over with a counselor might be helpful, but you’re a little scared to get started. Counseling can be the first step you take in making a difference in your life.

Here are some things to think about while considering seeking some guidance:

Hope Counseling | Session

 

It’s only a conversation

Sometimes all it takes is one meeting with a counselor to get the advice we’re looking for. Maybe it’ll take two. Maybe you’ll decide it’s really helpful and become a returning client. Either way, you’re not losing anything by just making one appointment.

You run things

If there’s a topic you don’t want to discuss, you don’t have to talk about it! Sometimes people are afraid that counselors will try to get inside your head and read your thoughts. Although this would be an amazing super power, I don’t know any counselors that can actually do that. If there is a topic you don’t want to talk about, just say so. If you feel like the conversation is going in a bad direction, say so. You have the stage to work on whatever problem you want to work on.

It’s Effective

You know how just venting to your friends is so cathartic? Imagine that your friend was actually educated in how to help you perfectly. That’s what counseling is. Many people have overcome depression, relationship issues, or self-esteem issues just by working through their problems with a therapist. They’ll help you look at your situation from a different angle.

Start with a phone call

Call the office and request to just talk to someone on the phone, to get a feeling if talking it out is something that can help you. You’ve got nothing invested, and you’re totally anonymous. If once you talk to the counselor for a bit, you’ve decided that it might be helpful to schedule a full session, go ahead! You’ve already made huge progress.

How to Cope with Being Alone

Hope CounselingHumans are inherently social creatures. We thrive from connections that we create with loved ones. And although there is a large spectrum of comfort with social contact, it is true that we all need to feel connected. When we are forced to be alone by whichever life matters have brought us there, coping with solo life can be difficult. Here are some things to consider trying during your streak of independence:

Have a happy mindset:

Most of our troubles are created by our frame of mind. Look at this as an opportunity to explore and learn more about yourself. You now have this time to devote to yourself! This really is true independence. Keep an open mind about meeting new people, and engaging in new activities. Happiness comes from within. Don’t make excuses!

Learn Something New:

What is something that you always wish you had learned? For me, I would love to learn how to play the guitar. During a time when I was alone previously, I learned how to knit. Take lessons or watch video tutorials online. Connect with others who have a passion for whatever it is you want to learn to do. They will love the opportunity to share their passion, and you will get to absorb their knowledge!

Adopt a Pet:

For longer periods of time alone, pets are great way to focus your need for connection. Dogs are great because they really love their humans. Their reliance upon you will help to give purpose to your day. If you can’t adopt a pet, volunteer at your local animal shelter. Walking the dogs is a great chance for you to get out, take walks, and connect with another being.  

Read:

This summer my goal is to read five new books. There is always something to be gained from reading. You’ll become more educated, pass time, and become a better-rounded person. Check out some classics like Huckleberry Finn, Wizard of Oz, The Catcher in the Rye, or The Great Gatsby. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau is about a spiritual quest to live independently in nature.

Exercise:

Imagine getting that body you’ve always wanted. Now you have no excuses. Wake up with the sun and just take a walk. Join a work out class. There is Yoga, Pilates, Barre, Spin, Zumba, Weight Lifting, and SO MANY MORE! Some big cities offer free exercise classes outside during the summer. You’ll look great, feel better, and you’ll seriously impress your loved ones next time you see them. See this story about a woman who took advantage of her time away from her husband to drop 100 pounds.

Pick up hours at work:

Focusing your extra hours into your work life will give you an extra cushion in your bank account. You will have more free money to pay off bills or save for your next goal. If putting in more hours at work sounds like the worst idea in the world, consider volunteering. It’ll still keep you busy, but you will have more control over your schedule and hours. You’ll be making a positive impact in the world as well!

Explore:

Go outside! It’s a big beautiful world out there! You won’t meet any interesting people by staying home. Get yourself a pair of hiking shoes and explore local state parks. Connect with nature by kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, swimming, or even just having lunch in the park.

 

 

 

Extreme Coupon Shopping Causes Extreme Stress

A Few Thoughts on  on “Extreme” Coupon Shopping

shopping stress

You have seen the shows and heard all the stories, people spending mere pennies for items you pay full price for. So why not try it yourself? Well you can, but make sure you are cautious and always keep your emotional and mental state in check. Yes, you might be saving hundreds of dollars every week, but you can’t concentrate or relax because you are trying to think of the next big deal, or you are planning and plotting how to get more coupons. It is an addicting habit and it can get out of control. When left without limitations, extreme couponing can be just as dangerous to your health as smoking or depression.

Couponing can take over your life and cause stress and anxiety you do not need or want. Is it worth it to buy that butter for 25 cents when you end up having a breakdown? Your physical and mental health should be priority over everything else!

Plus, the consistent exposure to disappointment isn’t good for you either. Maybe you go into a store with coupons in hand ready to score the best deal of the day, but then the item is sold out! So you scramble to the customer service desk and request they call another store to see if they have the items. They call a couple of stores before finding one that has what you’re looking for, GREAT! That store happens to be 20 miles away, but you don’t care you are so wrapped up in the fact that you are going to save a lot of money. So, you get into your car and speed as fast as you can because you don’t want anyone else to buy the item, even though they have already saved it at the service desk for you. In the process of speeding to the next store you’re pulled over and get a ticket, but you are so concerned about getting to the next store you just throw it in your purse and continue to the store. It doesn’t matter to you that you cut off five senior citizens; they were in your way.

Is a speeding ticket, your safety, and gas money it took to get to the second store worth it? Yes, it is great to save money but it shouldn’t be the only reason you coupon. You do not need to stock up on 40 tubes of toothpaste; they will expire before you can use them! Do yourself a favor and step out of the situation you have built for yourself and take a look. Does this look like something that could be mental or physically harming you? If you think yes, then you need to do something to change it. Cut back on the amount of time you spend couponing or even take a few weeks off and see how you feel.

For the first week you may feel antsy and like you need to be out there saving. But after that you will see what it is like to be much less stressed, and all of that built up stress was something you had the power to change all along.