A reader asked why more psychiatrists don’t speak up louder against psychiatric drugs. He said there’s enough harm being done each day to those taking psychiatric drugs that not speaking up is like being a “good German”.
I’d like to think there’s someone in charge who could sound the alarm. It’s nice to imagine that working doctors have the power and freedom to speak up in a forceful and visible manner. If such a doctor exists, it’s not a psychiatrist who works in the trenches. A working doctor today is not in a position to be Paul Revere.
There is no doctor’s union. Every worker without a union is easy to chop off and replace like a malfunctioning cog. This leaves the individual cog to bear the devastating consequences alone. Doctors are wage-slaves with debt shackles and family hostages like everyone else. Advanced degrees and years of experience confer no protection against a lifetime of being unemployed.
As a doctor-employee, I wasn’t often invited to meetings. I wasn’t asked how I thought things were working. I was seldom asked how things should be done. I was told that I was “too expensive” a worker to be in meetings. Meetings took me away from the purpose for which I’d been hired. I’d been hired to shovel prescriptions in billable units as fast as I could. Period.
Doctor work today is high-speed prescription writing, test ordering and report typing. Nothing more is allowed.
Even doctors who are “medical directors”, direct little. They also have to earn their keep by shoveling prescriptions. They are sometimes in charge of physician recruitment and retention to keep the trenches full. They are the ultimate coverage for prescription refills.
Over the years, I’ve spoken up at jobs about clear and immediate dangers in patient care. I’ve written and talked my way all the way to the CEO in my efforts to protect patients. Each time, the final outcome was that I could either play along or leave. Period.
There’s no “whistle blower protection” except for obvious federal billing fraud. Given the current lack of protection afforded Federal whistle-blowers in the national arena, I wonder if this government-mandated “whistle-blower protection” would protect any tweeter.
At the same time, I think psychiatrists and other professionals are speaking up. But, out of necessity, they’re speaking up in private conversations with patients and colleagues. Even this underground resistance carries with it the risk of being tossed on a permanent junk heap.
Every psychiatrist, nurse practitioner or primary care doctor who says “no” to pressure to prescribe more drugs is speaking up.
Every medical and mental health provider who has a personal chat with a patient to discourage them from hooking their mouth to the American pill pipeline is speaking up.
Every therapist and doctor who offers non-pill treatment alternatives, who gives genuine support and who re-frames natural human emotional and behavioral responses is speaking up.
Each time one person’s drug dose is lowered, this is speaking up.
These all count.
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Thanks for reading, thinking and writing.
Alice de Saavedra Keys MD
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.