May 11, 2010

Psychiatry part 3

In Mishpacha magazine's supplement "Calligraphy" from Pesach (which usually has fiction but this time had non-fiction), there is a very disturbing story about a third grader in Israel who was doing wonderfully in school until he began speaking less and less and was diagnosed by a pediatrician with selective mutism (which does not explain anything, just describes the fact that the child isn't talking).

He began to withdraw socially and then stopped speaking altogether. A psychologist had him draw on a paper, asked the parents whether the child had experienced any trauma, and when they said they no, the psychologist said she thought he was reacting to a severe trauma or was psychotic and to bring him back in a week.

Rather than explore what might be bothering the child who had been 100% normal till then, a week later the same psychologist recommended that they take him to a psychiatrist because she decided that his condition was dire.

Based on this, they actually picked up and moved the family to Yerushalayim! (yes, they asked a shaila and sorry to say, the psychologist's opinion was adhered to like it was the word of G-d).

Unbelievably, this poor child was enrolled in a special needs school. Interestingly, he still sang zemiros at the Shabbos table but otherwise, he was doing worse.

They took him to a pediatric psychiatrist. Their child was 10 and a half and the change had begun three months before. Without interacting with the child at all, this rasha of a doctor declared that the boy was either experiencing clinical depression or psychosis and he wrote out a prescription.

Around the third visit, the child went over and touched the fax machine and this doctor yelled at him, stood up and forcefully waved his hand and said, "Get away from there! You're psychotic, yes you're psychotic!" And he wrote out another prescription.

This is a pediatric psychiatrist!? Why, oh why, did this evil person specialize in working with children when he hates them? And by what did he write out a prescription without thoroughly examining the child?

The story goes on. They administer drug and after drug to the child who gets worse and worse.  He had terrible side effects from the drugs, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, was confined in a psychiatric hospital, was severely beaten and abused by the Arab driver of the van that took him to his institution, and then a particular drug was credited for helping him get back to normal.

The parents did what they thought was best. I feel sad for them and the miserable experience they had, uprooting their family and everything that happened, but it needs to be said: Nobody bothered trying to find out what made a previously normal 10 year old withdraw. These medical doctors are trained to diagnose pathology.  Mental illness is nebulous, usually with no physical evidence of a physiological problem and as in the case with the "Girl in the Green Sweater" and the woman in the "True Healing" post, drugs and mental illness labels were not what was needed.  A person reaching out in kindness with the way to the person's heart is what was needed.

This reminds me of an article I read about a year ago about a man who came to the US to collect tzedaka so he could pay for a wedding.  Once in America he was unable to get himself out of bed.  A friend took him to a psychiatrist and you'll never guess how the MD treated him .... Are you ready? Have you guessed? Yes! He wrote a prescription for an anti-depressant!

Now tell me, if the doctor had written out a hefty check for the person, or if the fundraiser had unexpectedly won the lottery, would he be depressed? Nope.  Would he need drugs? Nope. So why are we, as a society, allowing our fears and sadness to be treated with drugs?

No comments:

Post a Comment