Recently with the many ringing of the changes in the care of the mentally-ill, I have noticed the controversial use of the wording “we agreed.” What agenda lies behind the term “we agreed”? My take is: the professional (being the ‘pro’ he/she has the purse-strings) sets out a course of action and I, or others, as a mentally-ill patients have no powers to object. This lack of a voice is the rider to alleged like-mindedness. And since the reports of meetings are recorded by the ‘pro’ they naturally use language that suits their needs and not necessarily the patient’s. So can I say: we agree?
Monday 9th December 2013 I attended the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust Recovery Centre. Everyone is in recovery but no-one ever recovers. The Recovery Centre are proud of employing ‘peer support’ trainers who work in close collaboration with a mentally-stable professional. As part of my recovery journey on arrival I tried to work out, whom of the two facilitators, was the ‘punter’, and who was the ‘pro’. Initially the conference room was in confusion, the room was filled with technicians trying to fix a fault with the DVD player. My eyes focused on a fat woman, power-dressed head-to-toe in a light brown trouser suit with matching accessories – ah, I said to myself, she’s the ‘punter’, a ‘pro’ would be slimmer, the medication does pile on the pounds – then I had a doubt, fat is the perfect disguise – this lady is colour co-ordinated as if she has benefitted from the attention of a stylist, and you don’t get that sort of attention on DLA, I swiftly changed my mind. I then focused on an overweight man with jeans whose cotton was of Primark quality – Bullseye, he is the ‘punter’. The Course was intended to teach ‘how to organise and chair meetings.’ Most of the knowledge imparted came from the comedian John Cleese in the form of a straight forward training video titled “Meetings, Bloody Meetings”. Followed by a twenty minute role play where I volunteered to be the Chairman. The feedback was good, I came across as being authoritative. There was a moment of insecurity from the colour-coordinated lady whose name is Robyn Doran when discussing the role of the Company Secretary, I piped-up with: in large corporations the Company Secretary can be paid more than one-hundred thousand pounds and often knows more about the business than the Directors – Ms Doran, a Director of the NHS Trust, was moved to say – she knew more about her organisation than her secretary! Ouch!
Tuesday 10th December 2013 At the Working Men’s College to hear an eminent physicist Professor Joseph Schwartz discussing Einstein. A special talk. Professor ‘Joe’ Schwartz also has a degree in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. By chance, in the audience, I was sitting next to his sister-in-law who I handed a copy of TWO THOUSAND YEARS in play format. Maybe after a reading the good Professor will e-mail me?
Wednesday 11th December 2013 I went to hear Dr Stan Ruszczynski talk at the world famous Tavistock and Portman Clinic on the treatment of offenders. Doctor Ruszczynski reflected on how the attitudes of the professionals hardened by adding these words; has attempted suicide to a patient’s notes, citing an example of one group who read a patient’s notes with the three words, and a second group who had read without the additional three words, both groups of highly-trained psychiatric professionals ending up at loggerheads. Tensions in the two fractions arose with wide differences in treatment options. It was illuminating to hear how passions and disturbances run within the professionals who will allow their emotions to spiral out of control leaving me very worried about the overall culture within psychiatry. I think I was the only ‘punter’ in the room and I would say I got under the speaker’s skin. It would be safe to say everyone in the room will remember me as I challenged Doctor Ruszczynski when I felt he was talking pie-in-the-sky nonsense as he invoked what the mythical, perfect Team would do for patients, this fantasy was not to go unchallenged. On the hard facts Doctor Ruszczynski lamented if only “we had the resources, the time, the staff, and the understanding.” The talk was only for an hour and I fear for my dissent I may be barred from future talks held at the Tavistock and Portman via a letter that says, “we agreed.”