Sunday, November 27, 2022

Comments by Annita Sawyer, PhD

Showing 8 of 8 comments.

  • I’m wary of making those generalizations, PacificDawn. Generalizations are what intrude between one of us who is suffering and needs help and ideas about who they are and what help should be offered. My hope is to focus on the urgency of seeing individuals, not syndromes, sicknesses, or any other category. That also means not generalizing about what might encourage healing or mitigate suffering, because that’s individual, too.

  • Thank you, Noel, for your kind and thoughtful comments. I’m touched by your wish to help me and by your work to address the fallacy I bought into, both because I absorbed it as common wisdom and continued to use it to meet requirements for my work. I also fought it, refusing to fully accept it in myself and ignoring it in the privacy of my office. At the same time, I’ve now learned more about research you might be referring to, and the related UN report that concludes psychiatric diagnoses are without scientific merit.
    I applaud your work! I’m moved to think that my writing became part of your motivation. This affirms my hope for us all—that truth will prevail, that people of good will will continue to expose and to change those false assumptions and biases, and that we can work to develop within ourselves essential respect for every person we encounter.

  • Thank you for caring about what happened.
    They didn’t all terrorize me. I was fortunate; I also had some very fine therapists. There are folks who stay in therapy for decades. And some of them are growing through all those years. The point I’d like to make is that there isn’t one path, not to being damaged or to finding wholesomeness. But healing does happen. Sometimes it takes a long time.

  • Thank you for your thoughtful review! I’m another person whose life course was overwhelmed by psychiatric whims of the time, in this case the early 1960s. At seventeen I was hospitalized, diagnosed with schizophrenia, given 89 ECTs and after three years transferred “unimproved,” lacking most memory of my first twenty years. I owe my eventual recovery to psychiatrists who were respectful, intelligent, informed, psychoanalytic, deeply caring individuals.

    My PhD dissertation — in medical sociology, which included Goffman, Laing, and Szasz — looked at psychiatric diagnosis as you’ve described.

    A Yale educated psychologist with decades of practice, I’ve written a book about my experience that I hope might help with the general public. By telling a good story, worth reading in its own right, my goal is to increase awareness of the damage caused by careless application of psychiatric diagnosis and treatment fads and to show how through essential human connection psychotherapy heals. Smoking Cigarettes, Eating Glass: A Psychologist’s Memoir will be published in early June.