Treating humans as people, not objects

In my training as a psychologist, I was taught to treat myself and my clients as objects, as machines needing mechanical repair. The medical model of mental illness was generated by research methods used in physical science for centuries. The same research tools used to study a rock, an ocean, or a bus are used to describe the characteristics of human experiences such as anger, joy, depression, or schizophrenia. When research subjects are treated like objects, it is no wonder that the mental health education built on such research creates professionals who objectify and dehumanize their clients.

In my clinical practice and research using a method which treats humans as as people, I have found that with proper support and a willingness to engage in the difficult work necessary for recovery, psychotropic medications and the serious health risks associated with their use are unnecessary. Hopefully, we will look back on the reliance on medications as simply another step in the evolution of an increased understanding of mental health. Hopefully, we will say, “We used to believe psychological distress was an incurable disease. we also used to believe that bloodletting, leeches, solitary confinement, straight jackets, lobotomy, electroshock, insulin coma, and tobacco-smoke enema machines were effective treatments. Now we can add psychotropic medications to the list.”

Medications seem necessary now to most professionals and those in distress. This is due to a lack of acceptance of research and information concerning their dangers and ineffectiveness.  It is also due to resistance in the media and the mental health field towards considering a different approach towards psychological distress.

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