Sunday, May 1, 2011

Psychiatry is good.

So last night I was hanging out at Mulberry St. for karaoke and I met this guy and, for some reason, we got talking about psychiatry. I don't remember why. I tend to get in strange and interesting conversations after a few drinks.

The conversation quickly turned into this argument where he was saying psychiatry is bad, that it doesn't help people, that it just masks peoples' problems. And I was trying to defend psychiatry, explaining how it helps people, how it has helped me, etc.

I know there are people like Tom Cruise, and scientologists, who say psychiatry is evil. Those people are wackos. But then there are people like this dude I met, ordinary people who also believe psychiatry is bad. I remember once telling a good friend of mine that I was on anti-depressants, and he was like, "You need to get off those!"

So, here's my position on psychiatry. It is good. Granted, it is not an exact science, like dentistry, because it deals with the brain, and the brain is way more complicated than teeth or other organs. Also, there are probably bad psychiatrists out there, just as there are bad doctors of every kind out there, who over-prescribe medication. But that is no reason to simply write off an entire field of medicine.

Psychiatry saved my life. Were it not for psychiatrists and psychologists, I would probably be dead, or insane. Any good psychiatrist will tell you that the best treatment of mental or emotional problems is not just medication, but rather a holistic approach, involving talk therapy, medication, diet, exercise, etc. The medications I take do not serve to mask my problems. As someone who has gone to a therapist, off and on, for many years, I can say I have dealt with my problems head on.

People are entitled to their opinions, but I get a little upset when people write off psychiatry as 'bunk". It is an established science with peer-reviewed journals, academic programs, etc. It is not pseudo-science, like alchemy. It is real. It is medical. It is scientific. And it helps people, myself included. Whenever I hear someone dismiss psychiatry, I suspect that that person has had little to no experience with real mental illness.

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