Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The New York Review of Books: The Trauma Trap

Woooowwww... This stuff always gets me:The New York Review of Books: The Trauma Trap. I read things about how certain groups believe that psychiatry and psychology are tantamount to abuse, and I'm prone to think, "That's because you're all a few tacos short of a combo platter yourself." And while that may be true, some of the stuff that this review goes into makes you wonder about the other side. It's just not very reassuring that both groups tend to have the same loopy delusions of grand conspiracies out to get them.

I'm aware that not all psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and mental health advocates are like the extreme examples described in this piece, but it also highlights the ultimate unknowability of whether someone is really helping or hurting you. If I go into an emergency room with some ailment, I assume that I will be helped. I may not know until long after the fact that what that doctor did that night made things worse, or that he fixed the wrong problem, but I do have some immediate feedback. The pain is gone, the blood has stopped flowing, the bone is back in the arm, et cetera, et cetera. But when you're seriously mentally ill, you lack those certainties. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that someone's not out to get you. It's possible to be unbalanced AND to be abused. Everyone's delusions aren't as colorful or as obvious as demons sweeping down from the ceiling and swatting at your head.

Ultimately, it's scary because people with real problems were told that they were caused by something else, and they were encouraged to accept these something elses as being absolutely true, even though there was no real evidence to support it. Now they're stuck with imagined memories that seem more real than the prosaic ones that were shoved aside. Who do you trust now? Who do you believe next?

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