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This long aching summer
draws to a close
Three of them now

Sara Sittig, By the Sea

The drug industry has done terrible harm in the US -- leading to heroin addiction among other things. A new acquaintance of mine has shown me that pill and drug-dispensing for mental and social trouble is not ubiquitous in France. Here in the US the great solution is to hand out powerful medications which eventually can hurt people badly by many more things than mere addiction (I'm being ironic).

I read a good article about a book on military psychiatry in Times Literary Supplement the other week: it seems that as the diagnosis of PTSD was invented and spread and cost a lot of money someone came up with the absurd idea that the way to get rid of a trauma was to relive it. This idea has spread throughout the psychiatric industry: I came across it in Kaiser several times. You can't swim, well have a parent throw you in. At last this is being repudiated in the military as the damage is seen. Not at Kaiser though.

A friend sent me this article in the New York Times whose value is that it acknowledges some people's grief goes on for a very long time. I don't see it acknowledged except among those who have been bereaved. Even those who don't grieve for long will notice those who have been similarly hurt and observe this reality. But few others or if they do they never write of it. I shall connect it to the failure of the psychiatry industry -- by the way the fully certificated "doctor" makes 6 figure sums a year, beginning with the number 3.

Complicated grief.

On its specific content: I agree with the person who declaimed against pathologizing common human emotions. Normal/abnormal are judging words. One of the two people who ran the group therapy I was in the spring before this past (so one year and 4 months ago) said there was a bell curve. In the center a large proportion of people take different lengths of time to do whatever is meant by recover/feel better &c; on one side is a percentage who "get over it" quickly (within a year say) and on the other a percentage who don't.

I note the story does not tell us what are the techniques of helping "complicated grief" except instead of 6 weeks of group sessions there are 16. Also that at the end we are assured the woman is fine now -- "gotten over it." The extreme of a woman never going out or picking up a phone loads the argument too is a loaded example, false the way depression is usually described as a catatonic state. I go out all the time, talk to and engage with (sometimes to my detriment as this past week on WWTTA) people a lot.

In a way it's an absurd category. Complicated grief as if anything in human life is simple. This is complicated because it doesn't yield to quick solutions -- i.e., the model being drugs, pills.

So, to connecting the above with the self-enrichening psychiatry industry (a branch of the people now making huge sums on the cancer epidemic): I am a depressive person and last week was made angry (that's the word) when I visited the psychiatrist assigned to my case. I had been told I had to visit him now since a year had gone by since the last visit and I would not get my sleeping pills (that's not true I now know from him) unless I showed up. I should have remembered that in fact he orders them into a local pharmacy as the Kaiser Pharmacy has refused to renew them as often as I need to take one pill each night.

Why angry? Indeed embittered?  Unless you pay big sums and know someone who can recommend an analyst psychiatrist today the only thing such people do is prescribe pills and write down on your record labels naming what they think is your "disorder" and how they surmise you are doing. This time under "recurrent episodes" (his term for my grief) there was "in full remission" because I didn't tell him anything. Since I've learned how the DMV can get into your records (and many other agencies) I've decided to say nothing as the man doesn't help me at all except these pills.
I no longer want to tell him or any of them at Kaiser about me as since the DMV incident I've learned that gov't agencies demand to see the whole of my files even if the law supposedly says they are not allowed to.

Here is a whole profession of people making big sums, who could be trained (I suppose) to help people and they simply refuse. All they will do is offer you body-altering chemicals. It was worse than a long waste of time -- 40 minutes there and back, 25 minutes in his office -- because it is angering/embittering when I see him. Not at him individually so much but at what I remember psychiatry once was and what it is today. Years ago for a year and one half I saw a man who talked with me about my troubles and life -- twice a month and he helped. This man is a pill dispenser and his questions prescripted. I can't even object to some of what he says lest he stop prescribing these pills. He grated on me when he had (to my mind the temerity to suggest I stop my glass(es) of wine at night and in the next breathe was offering me powerful anti-depressive pills. He's seen me at most 7 times in his life and would change me chemically (does he know if these medications are carcinogens? doubtless he'd be sure they are not), but objects to my mode of relaxation. I did say something to that, told him he was a puritan. Of course with his degree he thinks he knows so much more than I.  I sensed his condescension and laughter at me. But said nothing to this. Sessions are risky, and you must not tell the "doctor" what you think of what he has said and done, for then you might not get the pill you do need. Like when you are in hospital, don't offend people who have the power to hurt you

Small sculpture seen at a local art museum, modelled on Snoopy holding Woodstock in his arms -- Trinka Roeckelein's Taking Shape: Bunny and Bird

At the Haven where I went for a year and a half I found help: three people. I never learned  what were their degrees, one was I think a psychiatrist doing decent pro-bono work once a week. She was the finest help as we talked of deeper problems. A man who seemed to be there becuase his partner-wife of 12 years died some years ago of cancer and he found some compensation in running groups and helping others. An ex-English teacher in high schools in Canada. Finally, Charlie, a specialist in grief, who followed the mode of giving advice about the here and now.  I sent the place $400 altogether (2 separate checks). These 3 individuals were paid nothing; their work unsung, unacknowleged publicly. The Haven is located in an old house behind a church in Arlington, appropriately called "Hope" Lutheran.
Miss Drake


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 23rd, 2015 03:59 pm (UTC)
Why turn to quacks?
Camille: "I wanted to make a comment but can't as it seems I should be on a list to do so. Therefore, a short answer come from experience. Why do you think these people will help. They won't: they only put you in categories they know and prescribe pills and tablets. When I have to see one of them - and even my GP - I list in advance what I need as medications and plan what to say to obtain them. Otherwise, I am all smiles and sugar-mouthed and sayno more than what is needed. Never say the truth to quacks!"

Me: Well what are they getting these huge salaries for? Save money and just hire someone from the drug company or an intermediary assigned by the FDA. I did have help twice years ago from psychiatrists and have been helped at the Haven. I'd say it's even worse as the advice they give is bad: it comes from mainstream conformism. The person needing help is blamed and taught to berate themselves if they fail to please and fit in.

I see from your reply that my sense of France is not wide enough, for your experience coheres with what has occurred in the US over the last 25 years.

Live-journal is set up so only people belonging to "the community" can comment; however I can put people's comments on myself. And there is more of a readership outside Live-Journal than is realized. Thank you, Camille, for replying. I appreciate it.

Edited at 2015-08-23 04:02 pm (UTC)
Aug. 23rd, 2015 06:07 pm (UTC)
Why turn to quacks (cont'd)
Camille: "Well, my problem with "psy-something" is that I play chess with them: I can see what questions they are going to ask and what the correct answer should be to be followed by the next question, etc. So it is only a matter of anticipation like chess. I have seen psy from the State (which are awful - according to me) and private psy (who cost a lot). As I did not play according to the rules of being confident in them, I could not receive help.

But I did not want their "help"! I wanted the pills I knew were necessary to get a balance in my daily life but to rebuild myself, I knew I needed something different. I needed friends, affection, love... I have found this with "modern" priests and nuns who are not saying "Jesus, Jesus!" all the time but have taught me some difficult truth as well as the means to cope with them (prayer is a bit like yoga techniques); I havefound it in reading and talking with friends, in allowing myself to do things I repressed like writing (blog and short stories).

And most of all I have relaxed my grip over things: I do not want to control everything anymore and I am less tense. And I laugh and joke. I eat more and more properly and at right times. I go to sleep at proper hours. It helps and I could not do it without the pills. But I do not have to see a psy anymore: the GP takes care of the treatment every three months. It is not the correct procedure but we found this way was doing me good and the GP had made the administration accept it.

This is, perhaps, the difference with the health system in the US. In France, a lot rests with the personal GP if you want to. And mine, even in the country, is good and has a holistic approach that is perfect for me.

Edited at 2015-08-23 06:07 pm (UTC)
Aug. 23rd, 2015 06:14 pm (UTC)
Not all are quacks
Only the unpaid (joke alert):

A lot more common ground than it seemed at first. The rules of the game may be different in the US, because the attitude towards social life is different. I went only because a machine message said I had to; when I arrived, I learned I did not and from now on to ignore the machine messages or email him first before acting on any. I am in contact with Charlie (not a certified psychiatrist or psychologist) and her understanding helps.

Edited at 2015-08-23 06:16 pm (UTC)
Aug. 23rd, 2015 06:28 pm (UTC)
Not all quacks ...
Go on then! That's how you will find comfort, security, healing, understanding, and confidence in you that will allow you to relax and have less tense relationships with others and less loneliness and aloneness. Ignore the rules you may ignore and build your own.
Aug. 25th, 2015 03:44 pm (UTC)
Another friend (not on livejournal)
"I was touched by your blog on grief and psychiatry, and agree with how long grief can last and how sad the system doesn't help us, but couldn't post a comment."
Sep. 8th, 2015 12:24 pm (UTC)
Someone remarked to me "it is what it is ..." over psychiatry and cancer treatments today
Yes that is the new saying I come across. One of my daughters has a way of saying "it is what it is." In the 1960s the saying that was the going idea was to change what is -- that it could be changed. I still believe the order we live in need not be so horrible for vast numbers of people across the globe, that this is the result of deliberate policies. One could make a fairer tax system, have money to create jobs and infrastructure and the more mild (but nonetheless impoverishing) suffering we see in the US would go way down in numbers. My real anger remains at the doctors and medical establishment that I saw and have to endure now -- each individual that is complicit chooses to be so. So in a way I was embittered by that psychiatrist I saw; he could have talked more decently but what he is doing is protecting his place in the organization first and at all times. But I don't think the doctors I saw are particular to or special to HMOs; as I said, if anything I came across far worse specimens outside this HMO. I've had three or four doctors whom I thought were good and decent and competent, one was in NYC and outside any HMO; one was a dentist I went to for a long time here (outside all HMOs and towards the end over-expensive so I stopped going), Dr Villafuerte inside Kaiser. Wiltz the primary care person I still go to is not a bad man; he seems competent but will do nothing or say anything that goes outside the conventions demanded. So I won't trust him if my heart should really begin to go bad. Have an operation by someone else? who? better to die quietly than bleeding after some painful surgery on a table. So yes there I am saying It is what It is and if my heart should go in some ways I will try to avoid what is since I can't change it, and in some moods I realize that was Jim's choice too. When he saw it was all over with him, he starved himself to death because no one had the mercy to help him die for real, only somewhat to mitigate the suffering. They won't even give you codeine so he lost his brain power in the last week which this earlier opiate would have permitted him to enjoy.

When we come to talk like this I realize why so many people read Austen as all comfort and comfyness -- on the surface the worlds of the novels do appear to be so and the agons of life are "merely" inward or offstage. Pre-net I never thought to write on Austen probably partly because of this and because I didn't want to "spoil" my experience. I didn't realize friendships in reading could so enrich it. But then pre-Net I had so few friends, hardly anyone at all to talk to of books. Last word on medicine: no doctor in the US (or anywhere else as far as I know) is going to treat me as an individual -- I'm not important or rich enough, I can't impress or pay them enough. Those who survive cancer survive because they were lucky; yes a crap shoot game but again I believe that such realities need not be as bad as they presently are for most.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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