ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Treatment Practitioners Are Often Right that We Need Treatment, But They are Not Right About Everything

Jack Bragen
Friday May 29, 2020 - 10:56:00 AM

People with mental illness are often taught to distrust our own instincts and to doubt the validity of our own perspectives. Yet, these are the wrong things to impart to someone. When in untreated psychosis, it can be useful for a recovering patient to realize that her or his beliefs were erroneous. Yet, as we continue in our recovery, we should be validated and not negated. Many if not most of the things that we believe to be true, in fact, are. 

When in treatment, we can observe events with the five senses, and we can use reasoning to draw conclusions. Some of these conclusions will be wrong, but some will be correct. It is not necessarily up to a treatment practitioner to decide that what we think is necessarily wrong, including when we disagree with the practitioner. 

A psychologist or a psychiatrist is just as likely to get things wrong as anyone else. People in positions of authority make human errors. No one has an exclusive copyright on the truth. This matters.

If we are to progress in our lives, we need to have some amount of trust of our own instincts. If we can never trust our instincts, then any output of our minds is invalidated. This is a horrible way to live! 

Consensus is often a wonderful thing. It is where a group of people all agree on something being the truth. But sometimes, everyone in the group is wrong. Yet, if they all agree, it can be harder for someone else to disagree with them, because they have all agreed that they are right. 

Modern psychiatry believes that mental illnesses are caused by brain disorders. I do not disagree with this. I've seen that whenever I tried to go without medication, personal disaster soon followed. 

A psychiatrist may sometimes be incorrect about a patient's prognosis, even if correct in the initial diagnosis. They got my prognosis wrong. They also didn't project this far into the future. Maybe they didn't believe I would last this long. In my twenties, I was capable of repair of analog video equipment. (Digital video, at least in the hands of consumers, had not yet come into existence.) My work involved making voltage and resistance checks in circuits to determine what component(s) or what board on a television or VCR was responsible for the unit not working. The ability to reason at an advanced level was part of the job. Psychiatrists failed to predict I would be able to do that. 

More than one supervisor at TV repair jobs complimented me on my work--without having knowledge that I am mentally ill--I was closeted. 

When mental health "professionals" tried to get involved in my career efforts, it was a disaster. I was much better off at my employment efforts without having the mental health people become involved. 

I'd had an electronics background beginning at age twelve, when I read college level textbooks and had hobbied in electronics. It was not a huge stretch to take electronics training at age twenty, and then learn how to repair televisions.  

We need to give ourselves permission to disagree with limitations that others believe we have. If we think we can do something, then why not give it a try? 

You do not need to believe everything your treating professional tells you. A mental health practitioner has the ability, some of the time, to assess your disorder. But never let them tell you who and what you are.