Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The importance and usefulness of psychologists and psychiatrists

This is a pretty serious, personal-philosophy-esque entry. But it's not too long so if you're interested in what I think about this, I'd love you to read it and hear what you think about it. Smiley-face.

The importance and usefulness of psychiatrists and psychologists

I always think these sorts of doctors are great resources, especially when you're really trying to be self-aware or need to just to stay sane and functional, if you get the chance to use them. They are not to be taken for granted. But that's another long story.

These types of doctors act, ideally, as objective and 100% confidential people to express your thoughts and emotions to at any given time. Their job is also to track how these change throughout time, in the time they work with you, to evaluate how we can think about and deal with them (particularly with CBT) and what we might try to do to best improve our lot and act in our self-interest, including not being total jerks to those around us. This also includes how to deal with and think about those we love and trust and cherish most, since as people this is another crucial part of our self-interest and personal image.

I'll preface this and all that follows with the addition that these ARE humans, and there's really no guarantee that they're good at their job. Even if they are, once in a while they'll fuck up or offer suggestions that really don't do anything useful. So in approaching how we use these resources, ideally we want to be as self-aware and vigilant we can be WITHIN ourselves, so we can take what we hear with a grain of salt. On the obverse, when they offer really good input – even if we deny it or if it hurts or is very painful and difficult to put into practice – we should try to listen to and accept it as ultimately worth absorbing. This includes drugs, when you need them, though some prescribers are quick to over-medicate - “better safe than sorry”. Also, drugs are very rarely guaranteed to do what they claim to do. Such is the nature of practical, science-based medicine, not just bad medicine.

But I think, even more than the input they give, the absolute most important function these doctors serve is a forum for expression. They provide as safe a space as possible to share our thoughts and emotions with another human being. While a journal is even safer and more honest, being able to share yourself mentally and emotionally with another human being is a very, VERY good way to deal with our lives and our minds. This doesn't only apply to when we're in a personal crisis. It's good to keep in mind that even our day-to-day lives, personally and with other people, can have a huge effect on us and how we act in relation to our own self-interest and our desire to help those we love.

I want to avoid being judgmental here, because I really doubt it's true, but I think this applies most especially to those of us who are very sensitive and prone to over-thinking our lives and feelings. These tend to be people with a lot of brain and often a lot of self-consciousness to go with it. Other people deal with the same experiences, though, to a lesser extent. And, of course, it's not practical for everyone – in fact, it's only practical to relatively few people – to even HAVE this resource, due to finances and many other limitations. Other people might have other versions of it, from church confessionals to trusted family and friends to other types of counselors, but because of their oath to patient confidentiality and the protections of it put in place, I think psychologists and psychiatrists are ideal.

Due to the stigma of psychology – that you have to be crazy to even need to talk to such a doctor – the vast majority of people at this time wouldn't believe what I have to say here. This especially applies to psychiatry To an extent I agree, due to the unreliability of how these drugs really work on the human brain. As such, psychiatric medication should PROBABLY be reserved for people who really need more than just a forum for expression, whenever they need it. (That's subjective, of course. If there's such a thing as an objective way to ascertain it, I doubt it's possible for us to know it.) There's a lesser stigma among people who accept that psychology and psychiatry are significant resources – especially people who have actually benefited from them or have close loved ones who did – that there are only a few times one “needs” a psychologist or psychiatrist. They have a good point. But, as I said before, even dealing with day-to-day interactions and feelings is enough to warrant using these resources for people who are very self-aware, self-conscious, or prone to over-thinking emotions and actions.

I think that's all I need to say to express my own thoughts and feelings on the importance of psychologists and psychiatrists.

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