The curse is better than the cure


One of the things that was emphasised strongly on the course, is that someone should never be admitted to hospital under compulsion because they ‘refused to take medication’. That just isn’t a reason to apply for an admission.

It seemed to be almost natural to comment on that in the assessment papers but, as our tutor pointed out, not wanting to take medication which may have horrific side-effects, does not, in itself prove anything if you have no idea what the background to that refusal is and why the medication might be refused.

Our tutor felt it was a part of the move towards the medicalisation of the social work profession (if that’s a real word!) that we were accepting what the psychiatrists were feeding us – namely by refusing medication that would make you ‘better’ you must be crazy.

That thought, combined with one of the more powerful and useful lectures, by a man with a diagnosis of schizophrenia who spoke in the most powerful terms possible, of the pain that the side effects of medication had given him and his fear of being medicated, made me consider how I have approached medication in the past and the emphasis on it.

There is no doubt that medication is important. It is more than important – it is vital. But there’s usually more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak. It is only one of a range of therapies that can be useful and valuable and productive.

I hope that it is not a lesson I forget in a hurry as sometimes, we can be caught up in doing what we think is the right thing to do and stop listening to what the difficulties actually are because we are superimposing what we imagine them to be.

2 thoughts on “The curse is better than the cure

  1. Hi:
    I’m a Special Education Teacher with background in working with kids with psychatric disorders. I’ve been wrestling with some of these issues and that “possibly relatic topics” thing at the bottom of a post lead me here.
    (Stop on by some time, if you’d like.)
    A thought I’d like to throw out here:
    It’s a painful irony that the psychaitrists create this veener of being so scientific. The whole process which they work under is so unscientific. Even if the medical model is useful for looking at mental illness (and I think it does have some limited value.) consider how they operate, usually:
    #1) Pick a person on a random hour of the week.
    #2) Speak to only that person for about 20 minutes.
    By definition, the patient is having some struggles. Taking the person who is needing the support by themselves, out of context of their lives and support system, and expecting in that random 20 minutes they are going to get a full and accurate picture is ridiculous.
    I’m not sure about how to tweak the system and make it much better, I just think that we need to recognize the entire process is about as unscientific as we could get.

  2. I certainly think there’s a lot of truth in your comment about psychiatry in particular having an element of the art as much as science to it. The way that illness affects the brain and mind is potentially much more complex than other physical illnesses and effects.
    To some degree, we have to have faith in the medical profession to provide honest and successful results and conclusions but that does not mean the right answers are always provided.
    I certainly agree that taking a short snapshot out of someone’s existence isn’t offering a fair holistic view but that’s part of the system that I’m working in and in my role as a social worker, I follow up the ’20 min’ sessions when it is possible (and obviously, on the basis of resources, it isn’t always) to attach a more sociological, holistic aspect to the solely medical judgements made.
    My point in the post was that sometimes it is easy to take the information that I am given and just run with it, rather than challenge and try to garner more information and responses.
    Often systems can only be as good as the people working within them.
    Thanks a lot for your comment – it’s definitely an interesting point!

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