Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.
e-mail: batushkad@yahoo.com

Friday, March 30, 2007


Similar to psychiatric diagnoses, individuals who do not understand my conceptions of the need for a paradigm shift in the field of mental health are prone to ascribe labels. The common label I have received is to be part of 'anti-psychiatry'. First, similar to Laing, I do not deny the value of aiding individuals undergoing mental distress, rather I disagree with the means to carry this out and am opposed to means that would be oppressive, forced, coercive, or do not respect the autonomy and dignity of the individual. It is my view that merely seeing the emotional world of individuals as chemical accidents rather than examining experience is a misguided and mistaken approach. Thus, I can view current psychiatric practice as akin to a materialistic religion, and it often has become the replacement for spirituality today. My other objection comes in that whereas we may find things to have an evidence base, we also need to be reality based- science must always be tied with ethics and the premise of to first do no harm. Because we can scientifically validate something does not always mean it is ethical and good.
What has becoming particularly distressing is to see within psychiatric practice, that a 10 minute or less interview with information solely obtained from sources who in some instances may have their own agendas can produce live long labels and scripts for often dangerous drugs. One example that a colleague related is that a mother who has many abusive relationships had a child who began acting out after he himself was a victim of abuse. The communication between the mother and child was poor and the home environment was frequently chaotic. The history of trauma was never explored in a less than 10 minute interview, and the child was placed on multiple psychiatric drugs which teachers and others who know the child have left him to be in a subdued, 'zombie-like' state. This is one of only countless similar stories related to me. Are we expecting that this type of 'treatment' is supposed to evoke some sort of 'cure'? To whose benefit is this sort of 'treatment', and what do we expect the exact outcome to be? Where is the child's experience heard in the midst of this 'treatment'. It appears that the child who was abused has only been abused further by the system udner the guise of 'help'. The bottomline is money. The complaint has always been that psychotherapy and human services are costly and time consumming. But what we fail to realize is that these drugs are not only expensive in themselves but expensive in their cost on human lives. To actually address the core root of the child's distress may take some time, but would produce an outcome far better than making the child a life long mental patient required to take toxic drugs for an indefinite period of time. It is also unfortunate that disadvantaged families are often lured into the psychiatric system because for many it is seen as one of few ways out. The government provides money for a psychiatric diagnosis, its cheaper to pay out these checks than to really invest in programs that would address the needs of children and tackle issues of poverty and social justice. And yes, there sadly do exist some parents who in selfishness would prefer to have their child considered to be incapicitated (though they are not) than to actually address the reasons for their distress.
If labels must be used, I would prefer to use 'post-psychiatry' and in this what I mean is that the entire system must be deconstructed. The medical model must vanish and be replaced with a model which takes into account the experiences of individuals and which ties science with ethics. It may be then that we have a system that is humane and abuses for once might become a thing of the past.

1 comment:

flawedplan said...

Hi Dr. Edmunds, That was beautifully put, needs to be said and heard. I am going to point folks to this one, and hope to see more of your work.