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.
In this post writer Kelli Maria Korduki chronicles her encounters with the psychiatric profession. She vividly captures the way the complexity of her and her life was reduced to a set of symptoms to be measured, rather than treating her as a person to be understood. Along the way, none of these professionals appeared to pay attention to the healthy parts of her. She learned to see herself as broken, in need of fixing.
“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.
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.
The logic of “chemical imbalance” persuades both patients and practitioners that context and subjective experience are not important. But that logic interferes with the understanding the person’s pain, and what it’s made of.
There is no chemical imbalance. At least there is none that can be measured or quantified. “Chemical Imbalance” is a persuasive metaphor used by psychiatrists, physicians and drug companies to convince people to take medication.
In many professions now, so-called “quality measurement” is the dominant language, reducing, quantifying, and eventually, side-lining the importance of human interaction. This can not be good for us as living, breathing, multi-dimensional beings.
Dave: In my view the depressed person is often the emotionally healthiest or better, the most emotionally adequate member of