Psychiatrists: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness. (medicinenet.com)

Naturally, psychiatrists should be compassionate people who want to help their patients. But unfortunately that’s not always the case. Some seem to forget that every patient is an individual. They stereotype (and often stigmatize) them according to their mental illness, refusing to acknowledge that there is more to the mentally distressed person standing before them.

Patients with BPD are seen as “treatment resistant,” “manipulative,” “demanding,” “drama queens,” and “attention-seekers.” (http://psychiatryadvisor.com/practice-management/stigmatizing-patients-with-borderline-personality-disorder/article/407316)

I’ve had 3 psychiatrists since I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. One was absolutely wonderful, another was very judgemental, and the other was incredibly arrogant… The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Psychiatrist A – “The Good”

This psychiatrist was very open to my views and opinions in regards to my treatment plan. He was also a great listener. I felt comfortable enough to discuss every aspect of my life with him, as he acknowledged each of my problems as real and not “all in my head”. While under his care, after just 3 months of treatment, I made a huge step with my recovery from BPD.

Psychiatrist B – “The Bad”

Therapy should be the initial type of treatment given. But this psychiatrist put me on medication first. As a result, my mind was so clouded; I couldn’t focus during any of my therapy sessions. He was also rather cold and distant, which made me feel too uncomfortable to confide in him. My BPD symptoms were just dampened by medication, I made little progress with my recovery.

Psychiatrist C – “The Ugly”

Within a month, this psychiatrist labeled me as “treatment resistant”. I was not treatment resistant, I just couldn’t stand his attitude. He undermined me and refused to hear my opinions on my treatment. I knew which therapy and medications were helping me, and which ones were making me feel worse. But nope, no opinions allowed. Instead of properly treating me, he arrogantly said that he knows what he’s doing, and that I should basically keep my mouth shut.

So what distinguishes a good psychiatrist from a bad one?

  • A good psychiatrist will be professional, with a supportive and empathetic demeanor.
  • They will openly discuss diagnosis and treatment with their patient; and warmly answer the patients questions.
  • Regarding treatment, they respect the patients wishes to increase or reduce therapy and medication within reason.
  • They give realistic hope as to how long recovery (from what mental illness the patient is suffering from) can take, yet remain optimistic.
  • Appointments are tailored to the patients needs. Eg. If the patient requires weekly sessions, the psychiatrist will make them self available.
  • The way they listen. They actively listen with concern and compassion, and offer insightful advice.
  • They will not stereotype and stigmatize the patient. Ie. The patient is recognised as an individual, and not defined by their mental illness.

All in all, a good psychiatrist knows what they’re doing. They have a great understanding of the different types of treatment available; and if they lack any knowledge, they will consult with other physicians. Every patients well-being is of upmost importance, and the psychiatrists priority. They will also be easy to confide in through their genuine concern and empathy towards each patient.

Ultimately, a good psychiatrist is practising in their field because they want to help people. They want to make a positive difference in the lives of the suffering.

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