30 January 2010


CZBZ has added a link to John McManamy's blog on her blog page, and my first read there stopped me dead in my tracks.

Mr. McManamy is a journalist, and bipolar.

The post linked above includes a description of his experience, as an invited speaker to a grand rounds session of practicing psychiatrists in Princeton, NJ ...

... where he spoke from the authority of his experience, and the experience of his authority - as a journalist, a science writer, and a person with bipolar disorder.

At the end of his talk, there was a mass stampede to the exits. As one, the MDs fled.

Mr. McManamy took the position that this might not have happened if he, the speaker, had an advanced degree. With that membership card, he believes, some minimal courtesy and acknowledgement would have been extended to him.

I am going to respectfully disagree, because I have such a degree; and I worked in a field closely allied with mental health for some 25 years; and I have seen similar stampedes, smaller in scale, on several occasions. Caused a few of them, in fact.

Please read Mr. McManamy's post, then consider the nature of his crime.

What Mr. McManamy actually did, whether he realized it or not at the time, was tell these people to DO THEIR JOB.

To engage with patients. To care; to consider that it is not enough to send someone away with a prescription in their hand.

To act as though people matter, even "damaged" ones, even psychologically or neurobehaviorally "damaged" ones.

To act as though their patients exist and have lives outside the office, outside the treatment facility; and that these lives, and the quality of these lives, are important.

And of course, he compounded this offense a thousandfold by being himself a psychiatric patient. By having the temerity to speak truth to power, from an unassailable position of intelligence, insight and experience.

So his audience did what respected established professionals often do when they are encouraged to behave in a genuinely professional, respectworthy manner: they ran away.

How dare he.

God bless him.

And God help the people being "treated" there.


Blogger John McManamy said...

Many thanks for this, Stormchild. I just stumbled across your blog and am looking forward to reading more.

13 April, 2010 11:31  

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