I had the privilege of speaking to Grand Rounds at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona medical school in Tucson. Every clinical department has these weekly gatherings where invited guests present the current state of their specialty.
Most presentations often feature cutting edge brain research, but on occasion a more soulful presentation is invited, and I love talking to young psychiatrists and other mental health professionals about my transcultural experiences, and the magic, mystery, and spirit of mind healing.
Not minimizing the great advances we’ve made in understanding the brain, I suggested that no matter how much we knew about it, the mind has a mind of its own. It’s like appreciating a great painting; you can divide the masterpiece into small sections, analyze its content, color, brushstroke, and composition, but when you added them all up, the big picture always exceeded the sum of its parts.
With all the research done there is no definitive biological explanation for most mental illnesses. Still, we attribute our successes and failures to picking the right drug for the offending symptom, and minimize the importance of making a heartfelt connection with people. We are increasingly, distancing ourselves from patients by seeing 4 patients per hour for a 15-minute med checks. As a profession we’re creating more mental illnesses and prescribing more drugs The fact is 25% of all Americans are now diagnosed with a mental illness, and with the recent publication of the DSM V we will likely soon see 50% of the population with a diagnosable mental illness.
As a profession we’re perpetuating the myth that if you’re feeling anything other than wonderful in every moment, you could be suffering from a mental illness; for which there is a drug that can help you. Defining the ordinary ups and downs of life, as psychopathology for which drugs are the answer, is ridiculous. We would eliminate 90% of the mental illness in this country if we prohibited direct to consumer advertising by pharmaceutical companies.
We would maximize our healing power by spending more time listening to patients, and making heartfelt connections. I shared my recent clown trip to Peru with Patch Adams MD where we conducted mental health clinics in the streets. Connecting with people at a soul level, even for just 20 minutes can help people see the familiar with new eyes.
In closing, I told the audience I was hoping to bring this model to the streets of America, and when it was over some attendees came up and said they’d like to participate in the street clinics with me. Made me proud to be a psychiatrist.
PS: Interested in expanding your abilities to heal yourself and others? Treat yourself to my November workshop. https://healingdoc.com/rituals-and-ceremonies-of-healing.php. Today is the last day for an early registration discount. :O)