“Nobody Comes to Work to Harm People”

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From Psychiatry Is Driving Me Mad: “Voice any kind of pain, upset, criticism, or account of a negative experience with an NHS mental health professional, and I guarantee no matter where you are, someone will burst through the nearest door, window, or manhole to inform you that ‘nobody comes to work to harm people.’ I’ve never been given an explanation of what this actually means, but having heard and read this phrase so many times, what I have inferred from context is that ‘nobody comes to work to harm people’ means if someone has been harmed by the words, actions, or inactions of an NHS mental health professional, this was definitely not intentional on the part of the professional, and due to this lack of intent, the harm was actually not harmful, and, as such, the person explaining how they have been harmed is being unfair, and should stop talking.

It is one of my least favourite phrases, not only because of how it shuts down the person recounting harmful experiences, but also because it doesn’t really mean anything. It never seems to get broken down any further, rather it just sits in the space which should have been available for people to voice their grievances, and takes up all the oxygen, silencing any further discussion. So, I thought I would write this blog post to try and take it apart, consider what it means, why it may be said, and how it can feel to hear it.”

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve found Wren’s articles quite good, even if at sometimes I disagree, but her articles are accurate and insightfull.

    Harms are also done to the rights of people.

    “nobody comes to work to harm people” seems oblivious, ignorant or dismissive of that fact.

    Rights might seem abstract, but they are nonetheless to be respected, to be untouched.

    As a layperson I think that’s why legal theorists, judges and justices speak of “no right is absolute”.

    Because from their point of view the judges and justices harm, impinge, restrict the rights of others, even themselves. In order to solve a dispute.

    The subpoena of a patient to be at group therapy, the restriction of movement, the restrictions to the freedom of thought, of speech, of self determination, to the self image, of transit, of association, of occupation are harms to those rights.

    The violation of privacy, even the privacy of one’s own mind is a prevalent, recurrent and severe violation done during the practice of the psych disciplines.

    Seen that way it seems obvious to me that saying “nobody comes to work to harm people” ignores, dismisses, or is oblivious to that fact articulable from the existence of rights and “no right is absolute”.

    And tells me some psych professionals aren’t even aware of a significant repertoire of the damages they cause, demonstrably so, with unresistable force, in the cases of rights.

    So to me, yeah, they go to work every day to cause harm, no way around it to me. To me the “nobody comes to work to harm people”, is either false, a lie, a misrepresentation, fraudulent, etc.

    And even if rights might seem abstract, in the courts, to my layperson opinion, the facts of the cases are articulated or speak of rights violations, codified explicitly in at least the penal codes: right to life, right to liberty, right to body integrity, right to privacy, right to self determination.

    So no mere abstractions, their violations translate into grievances, risks and harms in the real world. No way around it.

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