Letters to Children and Other Juveniles

A little while ago, I dropped in at one of the many libraries in the area that sell books and ephemera.  A nondescript thin unmarked cover demanded closer inspection. In muted gold script, the title emerged, Letters to Children by Beatrix Potter, Harvard University Press.

Inside were several otherwise unpublished tales embedded in very kind and respectful letters to children that Potter had written.  Like another favorite author, Madeleine L’Engle, she was careful to get out of her own way and write of salience and thought-provoking ethics which all ages could enjoy and take away the gifts of essence.

It occurred to me that the ever louder and defensive whining tales of woe coming from self-proclaimed “good” psychiatrists might benefit from a session or two with Potter’s and L’Engle’s stories.

Here are some of the take aways for them:

1. Who is the subject of the tale?  Patients (others) or self (psychiatry and psychiatrists)

2. Who is the hero? See #1

3. Who and what constitutes the villain?  Patients, insurers, third party reimbursers, employers (hospitals, institutions, jails, prisons, lawyers, universities, patients), laws, regulations, society, colleagues, non-psychiatrists health professionals

4. What needs to happen for the hero to triumph? Patient compliance, better financial renumeration, more professional power, greater professional autonomy, more prestige (all this assumes psychiatry is the hero)?  Or in the case of patient as hero, recovery, respect, successful societal integration, independence, personal autonomy, belonging, self-efficacy, prestige, greater financial renumeration?

5. What are the dangers interfering with hero triumph? What are the resources the hero brings to bear on the dangers?

OK, so with that in mind, have fun re-reading your childhood favorites.  And take a gander at two recent posts penned by psychiatrists who define themselves as “good guys”, but do not specify exactly what that means for readers. The Steve twins – Drs. Moffic and Balt, have a go and try to engage with commenters who self identify primarily as people who had experiences as psychiatric patients and family of psychiatric patients. Refer to the list above and see if you can’t help them out in their obvious confusion and self-contradictions.

Hint: psychiatry’s subject is supposed to be patient well-being and health derived from a respectful and trust-based relationship with patients



3 thoughts on “Letters to Children and Other Juveniles

  1. I don’t know about ‘wisdom…’ I have commented on this blog, and with dismay, have not seen more contributors. I hope more find you – it’s a great blog. I went to Dr. Balt’s article and entered a couple of comments there – I was pretty appalled at this response to a commenter:

    “(BTW, before anyone accuses me of “blaming the patient,” I would invite you to spend a day trying to talk patients out of a non-indicated benzo, stimulant, sleeper, or Seroquel, or an SSRI for “stress.”)”

    I posted a response to that on that blog – in short, I said that not all patients are begging for benzos and not all doctors are trying to talk them OUT of meds – mine was trying to talk me IN to taking them! Shaking my head…

    • Thanks for reading and responding. You’re wise, all right (grin). It can be just us 2 chickens for the time being. I think that so many people are frightened by the topics and blunt, head-on approach here that they quickly “close the barn door” and get out of Dodge. Moreover, I’m not certain that anyone else, researcher, clinician and physician, looks at the particular cluster of topics I’ve been interested in exploring. There is almost nothing about whistle blowing and ostracism in the science/research/clinical literature. I’ve never run across another blog which addresses these issues. And treating causative distressors is rarely mentioned in any capacity. It’s all about distress tolerance, doncha know. To which I cynically respond: if depression is biological, shouldn’t its pain – psychache – be treated akin to the pain from blunt trauma or a gunshot wound? Is the standard of care for those kinds of pain “distress tolerance” or is it pain relief?

      Glad you were able to comment on the Thought Broadcast blog post. None of my submitted comments get published there or on the Mad in America blog, although Steve says he’s not blocking them – perhaps they are getting dumped into his spam folder. WordPress does that from time to time. Mysteries…

  2. I think you’re right – it is the ‘head-on’ approach this blog takes to very fearful subjects. Also, the name doesn’t lend itself to folks finding it easily… although I think it’s a cool name. Also, I think that more lay folks might be interested – if you even want a bigger lay audience – if the name was a bit more ‘inviting.’ I realize that ‘sucks,’ but it is what it is – I think the professionals are probably somewhat freaked out and the lay folks don’t know how to find you…

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