For anyone experiencing or interested in the grief process, and/or psychiatry’s reaction to folk in grief I urge you to go to the following links.
Pat articulates the grief process with an honesty and acceptance I think we could all learn from for this is one experience we all will share.
I so feel for folk going through this process and looking to health services for help and getting, well, harmed bluntly.
I have read Pat’s sharing of her journey with admiration but as soon as I saw her reference to the DSM (the diagnostic bible for shrinks to define your problems) I grimaced. Oh my god don’t tell me she went to a shrink I thought…noooooo!!! She was grieving so well!
I know that sounds terrible but it is true. I was raised by a woman who lost her natural child and then lost her way and it was not a nice raising. I know therefore personally and professionally what a screwed-up (sorry…no other term does it justice) grief process looks like.
In my work the grief process that Pat speaks of has been essential but not in the way many practitioners apply it. For the person in the grief it can be demeaning…somehow undermining their own personal individual agony.
Where it is useful is when good therapists use it to identify where the person is within the process. So for example if someone had identified my mum was stuck in anger perhaps it wouldn’t have moved to bitterness and rage forevermore (fifty-one years now).
The fact of the matter is that psychiatry since 2000 has become completely dependant upon what I call the drug/work model…i.e. create a diagnosis…create a drug…back to work for you.
At least this is so in Australia and yes I’m qualified to say so (in case anyone wonders.) Oh, and add a bit of CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, if there’s any ‘odd stuff’ over.
The drugs Pat speaks of aren’t created to help grow the human being. They are there to adjust chemicals with the aim to returning the person to ‘normal functioning’.
Hence the new drug that’s in trail to actually chemically remove any short-term memory of traumatic events.
You won’t need therapy, or tears, or re-integrating your life to the new wisdom you’ve gained.
You’ll just chemically lobotomize the event from your neural circuitry.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Western psychiatry is leading us down a road of becoming the living dead and the risk is many folk are walking this journey willingly, unaware of the consequences so focused are they on the short-term fix.
And who can blame them. It is not only our habit to avoid pain, but also, the very structure of any capitalist society is allowing us less and less time to be ‘truly human’. A personal example reflects both this and psychiatry very well.
Years ago my then partner lost her mum. As a single child of a single mum her grief was profound.
Her work rang us three weeks after mum’s death. Please note the boss was a Senior Psychiatric Nurse, the work place an acute psychiatric hospital unit. The conversation went like this.
Boss: So when’s she coming back to work? Her bereavement leaves all used up.
Me: I don’t know…she’s barely getting out of bed yet.
Boss: So what are you doing about it?
Me: Giving her the space to grieve.
Boss: Well she needs to come back to work. And I need to know exactly when that’ll be.
Me: Listen, I don’t know. Surely you know grief as well as I do?
Boss It’s been three weeks. That’s long enough. Get her to a psychiatrist if she’s not responding correctly.
Me Ah, the supportive words of a psychiatric nurse, you….#$@&$$#$&*&%.
No I wasn’t polite or nice.
I was silly enough to think that of all professions ours would show understanding and compassion regarding the most painful experience a human can ever experience; the death of a loved one.
For anyone considering seeing a psychiatrists I can only suggest you read Pats blog first. Then decide.
Having experienced two folk point out to me that there is a need sometimes firstly for counselling and secondly that there are some good therapists out there, I thought I’d better clarify.
There are absolutely times when a therapist is required to nudge a person from being stuck.
But…I was referring specifically to psychiatrists of the ‘system’ who use the DSM (as discussed by Pat) and consequential treatments ie medication in exclusion to any ‘counselling’ which at least in Australia is ninety-five percent of the public psychiatric system.
I was also challenged regarding my comments regarding practical issues in the work place. My experience has been supported with 24 years as a psychiatric nurse and yes I’ve been a Charge Nurse were practical issues must be considered, but it can be done in considering the larger picture…ie being offered options such as unpaid leave ect…
My professional experience has shown me that the first four or so weeks are immobilizing, the next few months extremely difficult and for at least a year there are moments or intense grief. And within this of course is the allowance for our uniqueness that can speed up or slow this process
If our work structure does not cater for this something is wrong with the work structure, not the person as they are currently made to feel.