People Are Not Objects

All medications prescribed for psychological distress, whether professionally prescribed or self-prescribed become unnecessary when self-regulation and self-reliance are developed in a person. One just doesn’t need them anymore, though they seem necessary right up to the second one decides to stop using them. In my experience, I have found that in addition to their toxic and often permanently damaging effects, medications interfere with the process of recovery. For me, recovery means returning from psychological distress and then going on and growing, becoming an even stronger individual than you thought possible.

I am convinced that if more members of my profession believed in the value of both engaging in their own deep work and critically evaluating their educational materials and their teachers, they could become valuable to their clients again instead of continuing to blindly prescribe drugs that prevent real recovery.

I have experienced times in my life when, if a person in authority over me holding the views currently dominating the field of mental health had seen or heard me, I could have been labeled mentally ill and possibly drugged or hospitalized. I have avoided hospitalization, shock, and all the horrible traumatic things that the mental health system still offers as treatments. I was simply lucky that I was able to keep quiet at the right time.

Those of you who have suffered these indignities know better than most that the human condition can get overwhelmingly distressing for all of us—suddenly and abruptly. At these points, the quality of the professional response to the person in distress powerfully affects the severity of the trauma and the rate of recovery. In those moments, people desperately seek an answer that will comfort them in their emotional pain. We are looking for some kind of respite from confusion and insecurity; often we do not trust our perceptions and do not want to feel what we are feeling about ourselves, our family, or our world. We grab for stability and put ourselves in the hands of trusted professionals. Unfortunately, psychological professionals who are only trained in the medical model of mental illness just do not have adequate training to handle individuals in distress. There is a world of difference in therapeutic effect between saying to a person in psychological distress, “You have an incurable disease, are broken, and need to live in a hospital or be medicated for the rest of your life” and “You are experiencing a temporary period of emotional overwhelm. We all have these periods. You can recover from this too.”

It is important for professionals to remember that anyone is capable of breaking down slowly or abruptly due to trauma and horrifying circumstances. I do not say this to scare people, but to be real: we can all break down. As professionals, how would we like to be treated in a time of distress? As an object or as a person? The sooner my profession trains itself to manage the anxiety that arises when confronting a person in distress, the sooner we will learn to provide people with the real solution: to treat people compassionately, as humans not objects, who can benefit from support and recovery.

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