Mental health: transactions with doctors

12 Dec

After yesterday’s blog post, Mental health: psychiatrist bingo (in which I wrote about the difficult time I had in appointments with my psychiatrist), Matt Graham tweeted:

“Classic transactional analysis – we are propelled into parent, adult or child.” 

with a link to a web page explaining what transitional analysis is.

Jenny Murphy tweeted back:

“Makes me think that quite often docs & especially psychs can be ‘controlling parents’ which is a worry.”

And Matt replied:

It sure is. Their critical parent state causes us to become like nervous children. Classic TA.”

Now, I have no idea what this term means nor about any theoretical structures examining the idea of power imbalances between doctors and patients. I only know that, however you label it, what goes on in my appointments with my psychiatrist is unhelpful.

I’ve seen people tweet about power imbalances between doctors and patients before, without really paying much attention. I suspect the power imbalance between patients and one particular type of doctor, namely psychiatrists, will be more skewed than other types of doctors. After all, the pronouncements of a psychiatrist go to your whole being (rather than just, say, whether or not you  have a broken leg).

And patients on psychiatric wards will be in an even weaker position, given the power of psychiatrists to forcibly medicate patients and lock them up against their will without them having been arrested, charged or convicted by any court of law. Just by their signatures on a form. That’s some power.

Anyhow, here’s a Storify story exploring that idea further. I  hope to add to this post when I learn a bit more about the jargon and whether it helps in understanding the situation. And, more importantly, what (if anything) I can do to change the dynamic of the relationship so I can get more of what I need from appointments with my psychiatrist.

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