When kids show signs of emotional or behavioral troubles they may be sent to a mental health professional who suggests that a “chemical imbalance” is the problem. Here’s what can happen when the family, not just the child, becomes the patient. The side-effects are good.
All families have Rule Systems, but they may not even know it. In this case story, psychiatrist/family therapist Dave Keith treats a family with a child diagnosed with ADHD. Watch how he disrupts the Family Rule system. Good things happen for the child.
Dave: I have to take a moment to applaud my good friend and muse, Amy Begel, who has a splendid
“Chemical Imbalance” has become a generally accepted way to think about psychological conditions like depression and anxiety. But David Keith offers another perspective: In fact, emotional problems may be a sign of mental health.
These days kids are reflexively and routinely given stimulants like Ritalin if they are designated as having ADHD. Dave Keith offers an alternative perspective: He works with the family relationship patterns in order to treat the child. The side effects are good.
Good physicians take a clinical history in the interest of arriving at a diagnosis. While the clinical history is a review of ‘facts’, there are in fact, few ‘facts’ about human experience. Different examiners will get different histories depending upon what they ask about. Different family members give different reports of the same set of events. In my view clinical histories are a form of fiction pretending to be ‘objective’.
For Amy and Dave, common psychiatric “disorders” are part of relational patterns, usually embedded in the dynamics of the family. You just have to know how to look.
Understanding and changing family relationship patterns can make a huge difference for kids diagnosed with ADHD.
Part of the appeal of the “chemical imbalance” metaphor is that it people don’t have to feel ‘guilty” about their depression, or problems with their kids. But it can keep both patients and therapists from getting to the all-important bottom of things.
Here’s a first session with a “misbehaving” boy that reflects the corrosive effect of “enforced unity” in families