Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Doctor vs Psychologist

You go to the doctor, your eyes are caked with mucas, when you manage to part them and look at her, your bloodshot visage dimly reflected in her glasses, she says 'So what is the problem?'

And you respond 'Nothing, I'm fine. This is normal.'

The doctor moves closer 'to me it looks like you have conjunctivitis. Are you sure this is normal?'

'Yeah, yeah, yeah. Really, I'm fine. can we talk about something else?'

The doctor says 'no, I mean conjunctivitis is pretty common, I see it all the time. This is a textbook case. I can write a prescription for you right now?'

'Look, this is pointless. You're not listening to me. I'm fine. Okay, my eyes have a little sleep in them, that's normal. It happens to everybody.'

You leave, a complete waste of your time. Later that day you are squinting at a colleague and they say 'Man I don't feel so good, maybe I should see a doctor.'

You feel like you should help them out. 'Look, I saw a doctor. They're crap, just talked. Complete waste of time and money if you ask me.'

They didn't.

This scenario, I wouldn't be surprised if it hasn't occurred in over 100 years.

Now, you go to a psychologist. She says to you 'what's wrong?'

You feel awkward, anxious and eventually you just start telling her what's been bothering you. You tell them about your lack of energy, lack of sex drive, loss of belief in your work, how you just stay at home watching TV and not eating, and how that just makes you feel worse.

She asks you how long, you tell her you've been feeling this way for 2 months.

She says you are depressed. You ask her what to do about it.

You start an exercise regime and change your diet accordingly. Forcing yourself into social situations. In time your depression gets better, you regularly check up. The psychologist determines that it was a depressive episode, rather than a Major Depressive Disorder.

You stop the sessions, your quality of life improves dramatically.

This scenario too, is rare. I can say with certainty it has happened at least once in the last century though.

But this contrast I feel is the social stigma that drags down the utilisation of psychology and subsequently the quality of life of so many people.

I suspect, for many of those who bitch about psychologists AND they are somebody who has actually employed one, there will be two major reasons 1. It was forced on them (eg. in childhood) and 2. their psychologist WAS a bad one.

On the first point, it's a big help if your sense of 'normal' is actually normal. And this is easier to determine and thus appreciate the services of a psychologist when your anxiety, depression... distress is a deviation from how you feel normally.

You know, a blind person will struggle to imagine the sensation of sight for example if they were blind at birth, but they live in a world where it will be impossible for them not to conclude that their lack of 'sight' whatever that is, is not normal. It is hard for a blind person to deny the reality that most people can see.

But for most ailments people see a doctor for, it is because they have a concept of 'normal' that they describe as 'healthy'. Deviations spur them to treatment. Conversely our psychology, our thought patterns are the single most familiar thing in the world, and to a child, whatever they are is 'normal' so I imagine overcoming denial in a child is a very very hard task.

On the second, for the number of doctors, and bulk billing doctors people get to choose from, the percentage of psychologists are greatly reduced. Largely because fewer people actually use them. If you get a bad doctor, you feel it, and you change it up. People form preferences and judge doctors on their interpersonal skills too, even if they are clinically perfect.

Psychologists are harder to switch between, try out etc. because bulk billing psychologists are rare, and for perplexing reasons, people will spend much more time with a bad psychologist whom depend on building a relationship to actually perform their job, than they would a doctor, based on their interpersonal skills.

IF I could get society to the point where they approach psychologists and psychiatrists like doctors, it would be a much better world for almost everybody to live in.

No comments: