Jed Shlackman, LMHC, C.Ht. View Entire Blog

Holistic vs. Conventional Approach to Mental Health Treatment, Pt. 1

Some Fundamental Problems With Medical Diagnosis & Treatments Of Mental Health Issues:

In the mental health field people are labeled in the medical model as having "disorders." These may be personality disorders, emotional disorders, developmental disorders, behavior disorders, or other symptoms of functioning deemed to be abnormal and interfering with the individual's ability to function within societal norms. The field of psychology that focuses on analyzing what has come to be called psychological or psychiatric disorders is Abnormal Psychology. Abnormal means outside of the norm. This has nothing necessarily to do with right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy, but merely means a deviation from societal or statistical norms. Abnormal patterns may be unhealthy, but it's also possible for functioning deemed normal to be unhealthy and functioning that's outside of norms to be healthier than the norm. For example, gifted children are abnormal, yet they are able to function better in their areas of talent than "normal" persons. Another example is where persons in military service become unstable and don't perform as requested when asked to carry out violence toward others... to the military they are abnormal, but to other areas of society the military activities themselves are seen as inhumane and pathological. As we explore these issues it behooves us to be conscious of our own values and assumptions when attempting to make judgments about the behavior and functioning of others.

Using an example of behavior disorders, the most frequently diagnosed is ADHD or ADD, the label applied to those who appear to have difficulty concentrating and staying on task or difficulty controlling impulses and hyperactive behavior. The medical model assumes, based primarily upon a variety of correlation-seeking research studies, that these behavior patterns are due to an abnormal pattern of chemical activity in the brain. Consequently, in America and to a lesser extent in some other industrialized countries, pharmaceutical drugs have become the most widely used form of treatment for those labeled with these disorders. Rarely do physicians prescribing these medications do any physiological tests that yield any evidence of some chemical anomaly that would be compensated for by the drug. It is observed that in many individuals receiving the drug the person's mental state and behavior do indeed shift for a brief period of time. That is a short-term effect and not fundamentally any different from short term effects of using illicit or recreational drugs. Cocaine, caffeine, nicotine, and marijuana have all been shown to have potential short term effects of shifting brain activity to suppress ADHD symptoms as well as symptoms associated with depression or anxiety. Yet, because these aren't prescribed pharmaceutical drugs they are criticized by the mental health establishment who often point out that using these drugs can trigger psychiatric problems. This hypocrisy has much to do with money and politics and little to do with science or sound medical practice. All psychotropic drugs can foster psychological disturbances since they all impair normal metabolic pathways to create their effects. The short term effect may impress people, but the long-term, systemic effect is to impair natural biochemical systems, frequently leading to dependency and addiction and greater difficulty in recovering one's natural health and well-being.

End of Part 1...