"We are a people who do not want to keep much of the past in our heads. It is considered unhealthy in America to remember mistakes, neurotic to think about them, psychotic to dwell on them" - Quotation by Lillian Hellman
On a more serious note, psychiatric care has become such a large part of American life that even problems that may have been sorted out amongst a caring family in the past have now become social problems. It's a shame that society is so intent on labeling people that the need for psychiatrists is on the increase, and trying to determine which psychiatrist is suitable and which is a quack really is a difficult decision to make in the search for self improvement.
Imagine the scenario. The psychiatrist sits and listens to your problems, writes a prescription and sends you away armed with the possibility of drugs to mend your social problems, and it is little wonder that there are charlatans out there taking advantage of people's vulnerabilities and making a nice living from it.
In order to decide on the merits of a psychiatrist, there are moves that a patient can make to determine the strengths and weaknesses of that professional that is supposed to be helping.
*Amount of time spent in consultations.
*Effectiveness in the home situation.
If you were to look at how many consultations you have had as a patient with your psychiatrist, you can also look into the pattern of your behavior and see if any changes have occurred. Are you stuck in a situation you cannot get out of ? Do you feel every bit as bad after your appointments as you did before ? Are you achieving anything ?
Many psychiatric illnesses have come to light over the years, and the consultation of a psychiatrist seems to be the norm for those who really cannot find answers within themselves. At times, their problems are complex and do take time to sort out, although the charlatan psychiatrist will make little progress, because it isn't to his advantage to cure his patients. In fact, every time you go back, you are helping to keep him in business. Look at the way in which your appointments go. Does he listen ? Do you do all the talking ? Is there any feedback ?
If you find that after many consultations that show no satisfactory result you are still every bit as confused as you were when you started, it's the right time to re-appraise. What people forget is that like in any other walk of life, just because they have the qualifications doesn't mean they have the common sense to implement them. What is needed is a combination of practical and people skills and if your psychiatrist doesn't have this combination, then perhaps you can write him off as a quack.
The drugs that are now available to those with mental illnesses are alarmingly diverse. How about making the serotonin levels higher so the patient feels euphoric instead of miserable ? Doesn't that sound vaguely familiar when you consider science fiction stories like Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. Are we all ready to drop personal responsibility for ourselves and let the drug companies rake in their profits ?
The way to tell about your psychiatrists attitude towards you and to determine his quack factor is to question the drugs he is using. Ask why they are being used and what makes them more effective than handling the problems that life throws at you. His answers may astound you. If he is willing to at least talk to you about the hows and why's, then perhaps he isn't amongst the charlatans, although if he stone walls you with ignorance and refuses to answer, put him neatly in the pile of quacks where he belongs, since his attitude of superiority means that his approach to psychiatry is compromised by blinkers.
Effectiveness in the home situation.
When you are sitting or lying on the psychiatrist's couch, how much bearing does your conversation with the psychiatrist have on your day to day life with your family ? He is paid to listen, though not paid to give a damn about what happens in between appointments between you and your family. Do you ever open your eyes and take a real look at what the psychiatrist is doing while you are pouring your heart out ? Perhaps you should. Here, he may be watching the clock, yawning, doodling on a piece of paper or even listening to an MP3 player. Can you believe that a psychiatrist would do that, totally ignoring the patient and just passing the time of day asking you to close your eyes and talk to him about your life ? It happens. If you open your eyes and find this happening to you, then he truly belongs in the quack pile.
No one in a caring profession is actually paid to give a damn. They are paid to analyze problems, to help the patient talk about their feelings, and by doing so, allow those feelings to escape in the hope that at some stage a combination of suggestion, medication and communication will work. When you leave, don't expect your psychiatrist to care what happens between appointments, because they are not paid to care. However, just once in a while, there comes that treasure of a shrink that actually gets past the barrier of patient/psychiatrist and cares.
Those that find this kind of psychiatrist have a treasure to grasp on to and to work with, though these kind of caring human beings are rare finds. Does your psychiatrist look you in the eye when they talk to you ? Do they listen ? Actual listening and appearing to listen really are two different things, and occasionally it pays to ask questions relating to what you have been talking about to establish whether they listen or not. Those that have little care for patients won't be able to answer the questions. Ditch them. They are quacks.
Why do you think that this treatment will work for me ? How long will it take to be effective ? Reasonable questions you may think though clever psychiatrists will know how to get away from answering direct questions and insult the patient's intelligence by fobbing them off or changing the subject. Stonewalling not only insults the patient, but shows a lack of professionalism in a psychiatrist. If your psychiatrist does this, ditch them they're a quack.
Finally, finishing this article on a lighter note, a quote from Jacques Tourneur puts a little perspective on the way in which those professionals look for what's in the mind, rather than in the very soul of a patient.
"I don't feel you can help me. You're very wise, you know a great deal, yet when you speak of the soul, you mean the mind. And it's not the mind that's troubled"
A true psychiatrist knows the difference.