I’ve had 6 total psychiatrists in my life, and I’d like to describe them. As such, this is going to be a 3-parter, posted today and the next 2 Sundays. (I can bundle Psychiatrist #s 3-6 in one post.)
When I was a senior in high school, an authority figure “recommended” that my parents seek psychiatric help for me because of behavioral problems (I skipped classes, smoked pot in and out of school, drank, fought with my parents, stayed out past curfew — teenage shenanigans). I can’t remember the exact circumstances of how this “suggestion” came about, but I do know that it definitely wasn’t my parents’ idea because of the stigma attached to psychiatric help in the Filipino community.
I don’t know where my mom found this psychiatrist, but I thought he was a total jerk. This was in 1987, and back then, psychiatrists didn’t just prescribe medication. They provided talk therapy, as well. During our first session, he did most of the talking; I remember feeling sullen. A few minutes later, I got off the couch and walked out of the office before the session ended. I don’t remember what he said that made me do that, but I remember feeling angry. Angry that I had to be there. Angry at my parents. Angry at him.
My mom was in the waiting room, and he asked the both of us to enter his office, where he suggested that instead of individual sessions, we attend a group family therapy that he led at 8:00 AM on Saturdays. Unfortunately, my mom agreed! 8:00 AM on a Saturday? No way! I was in high school, remember; I never got up before 10:00 on the weekends. But I had no choice.
The first time we went, both my parents came. Psychiatrist #1 started asking my dad provocative, introspective questions, which I can’t post (even if I remembered them) for fear of violating some kind of confidentiality law. My dad didn’t answer them, grew angry, and left the room. He never went back.
My mom dragged me there for a few months, until I had fulfilled the “requirement,” and I think we continued going for a short time after. Psychiatrist #1 would go around the room and ask each family how their week went. I would just mutter some things. My mom confirmed and/or added to my answers.
Sounds harmless enough, but it was horrifying. I have a specific example, but again I hesitate to describe it because it was about another patient and his/her parents. Let’s just say this was when tough love was really popular. After my mom and I heard this family describe the incident, of which the doctor approved, we looked at each other and never went back.
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