Monday, January 30, 2012

Shrink Rap has Become Part of the Problem

I'm taking a break from Shrink Rap for a while and leaving the blog to ClinkShrink and Roy.  As I mentioned in my post on "A Matter of Perspective," sometimes people come to an impasse where they simply can't hear what the other has to say in the way that it was intended, and on certain topics, I think I've hit that place with a handful of our commenters.  I feel unhappy when I try to express myself and my words get twisted and distorted so that meanings and intentions that are attributed to them are far from what I ever meant to convey.  I understand that some commenters feel the same way when they try to get me to hear their points of view, and so I believe we are at that impasse of irreconcilable differences. 

At moments, the comments over the past few weeks have been outright mean.  There is a respectful way to disagree-- one that has a chance of getting heard-- but some of this has turned into name-calling.  As Rob says, I could use a thicker skin when it comes to blog comments.  I have been struggling over the past couple of weeks because I write something, it gets shot back at me as something I never dreamed I was saying, and I've been left to ask myself why I want to write for readers who are so angry with me?  If they don't like what I have to say, why do they read my blog?  If they have a better ideas, why don't they write their own blogs?  It's as if Shrink Rap has become a magnet for those who've had bad experiences with psychiatry --- and you know,  that's always been fine, we've learned a tremendous amount from our readers-- but lately I feel as if we're not just a forum to allow open conversation on the good, the bad, and the ugly about psychiatry-- but that we've become punching bags. This is not why I've decided to take a break, but it started to move me there. 

I spoke with a friend last night who mentioned she's been following what's happening on Shrink Rap.  She wanted to know, "What's wrong with those people?"   Other real-life (as opposed to blog life) friends comment that readers won't be happy until I declare that involuntary hospitalization is absolutely the same as Nazi concentration camps without qualification, and I've had other real-life folks contend that I'm catering to the Axis II's (not my words).  

I love Shrink Rap, but part of it's mission is to explain psychiatry and to de-stigmatize mental illness and it's treatment.  What transpires in our comment section has not been successful lately: if anything some (and please, I mean some) comments fan the flames for the worst stereotypes of patients with psychiatric disorders.  They do nothing to further the cause.

A second mission of Shrink Rap is that it gives me a creative outlet, a place to write, a place to vent, a place for thoughtful discourse about things that are important to me.  Lately it is a lot of work to watch my every word and very disheartening to still be misunderstood.  Just like my day job, you say?  No, much harder.  My patients come to get well and they understand that I'm in their corner.  None of them analyzes the nuances of every word that comes from my mouth.  This is good: I talk a lot and sometimes I say impulsive things.  My patients are wonderful people, I love working with them, and this is why I love my work enough to want to write about it in my free time.

Many people have commented, or sent me messages and emails, saying they don't understand the hostility and they like Shrink Rap.   To all of you: Thank You.  I will be back, I just find that it's consuming too much of my thoughts and dampening my mood, so I'm going to step back for a little bit.  

I want to say it one last time.  If you feel you've been wounded by the psychiatric system, Please Complain.  Don't do it in the comment section of a blog-- that doesn't change the world.  Try these suggestions: or start your own blog.  If you want to tell me that no one will listen to you because you're a psychiatric patient, I don't believe that.

Please no comments on this post.  

Back soon.