What are you getting when you see a psychiatrist?

I’m listening to an interview with Daniel Carlat, a psychiatrist who has blown the whistle on the profession. He revealed, in two books (he is a Harvard grad and professor at Tufts), how psychiatrists use medication, often to good effect, in treating psychiatric patients. But they use only medications, relying on social workers and other ancillary staff to actually talk to the patients. The policy of the psychiatrist is to not talk much to patients so they won’t get into details that will delay seeing the next patient.

That might work if the communication was excellent between the therapist and the psychiatrist. But it is not. He describes several patients who had life situations crucial to their healing that he knew nothing about b/c he just didn’t talk to them.

This made me think what a good career move I made getting out of the field. I was even offered a job with a psychiatrist doing exactly this. I declined when he said he prescribed Mellaril, a powerful drug of the time, for everyone who walked through his door. Just walking through the door was, for him, a signal of a mental disorder and Mellaril was a good general psychotropic drug.

The interview had in it the date of the early 80s when this started to be the rule. I left the field in 1983. Some years later, colleagues of mine said the situation had got a lot worse. When I read an article in the NYT magazine by this same psychiatrist, I thought you know, I just may not be as dumb as I look. I wonder if the same might apply to my understanding of what works and what doesn’t work in foreign language teaching.

If anyone who knows the pharmacology field can confirm this, I would be interested. Someone told me just recently that a change in the law as to who could be a representative selling drugs to doctors allowed pharmaceutical companies to hire attractive young women who marketed the drugs with a little lagniappe for the male doctors. I’ve seen some of these reps and they don’t look like serious chem majors.

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