I just had a lovely conversation with my therapist with a little conundrum I face as a YouTuber and writer who writes about various aspects of mental health. Although I’m someone who has benefited from a mental health diagnosis, psychiatric medications and therapy, I often challenge the field. In a recent video on my YouTube channel, I discussed the current issue we have with over-diagnosing and over-medicating people.
This can seem strange from the same person who benefits from professionals and experts.
From the outside looking in, my concern is that people may see my work as somewhat hypocritical or confusing. My true intention and goal is to have people be informed and not just blindly trust what we’re told by experts. The issue is that so many people are afraid to challenge experts if they are not an expert themselves.
It’s public knowledge that not all experts have our best interests in mind. I’m currently reading the amazing book Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Economists are constantly looking at what drives human behavior, and the main driver is incentives. I’m only a few chapters in, and they’ve already discussed how teachers have been incentivized to change answers on their students’ tests, how real estate agents are incentivized to sell their own home for a higher price than your house and much more.
We put our faith in experts, but we forget that they’re human beings just like the rest of us. There are plenty of amazing doctors, therapists and psychologists out there, but there are also scores of them who are making it hard to trust experts. It’s easy to assume that someone with that kind of degree must be trustworthy, but we fail to remember that just because they passed their ethics tests doesn’t mean they have to be ethical.
I’m also speaking on this subject as someone who worked in the car repair industry for many years. In that profession, it’s easy to take advantage of people who don’t have adequate knowledge of how their car works. Although I tried to stay as honest as possible and not recommend unneeded repairs, you’d never believe some of the stories I have about some of my former colleagues.
A primary example of this is the current opioid epidemic that was started by Purdue Pharma lying about the dangers of addiction and then by many doctors also profiting. Freakonomics also discusses how obstetricians in smaller areas are more likely to perform c-sections because they make more money. You can also look back to the studies that triggered an obesity epidemic due to Harvard scientists being paid off by the sugar industry.
An old Chris Rock standup joked about how they’ll never cure AIDS or cancer because the money is in the treatment and not the cure. Although this was a joke, how far-fetched is this? And not just for biological issues but psychological issues. Something I discuss regularly with people is how to know when it’s alright to stop therapy because if not, they may continue to try and treat us forever and make us believe that we’re still sick.
A recent study has exposed a massive flaw in the UK’s mental healthcare system. The full article is behind a paywall, but here’s a tweet with screenshots:
Upwards of 100k people who may not need the medications that they’re currently on?
Again, my intention is never to have anyone lose trust professionals or experts, but we should all stay informed as much as possible. We have to become our own advocates and start asking questions, doing our own research and getting second opinions.
There are a million issues with the current state of journalism, but we need these outlets because if not, the experts can run amock. Luckily, with the internet, we can all add to the conversation and spread awareness on topics we care about.
At the end of the day, we can’t let our feelings of inferiority deter us from challenging experts. They’re just as incentivized as we are in our everyday lives, which is the main source of corruption. When it comes to the experts we work with on a daily basis, the best suggestion I have is to find one you can trust. I’m forever grateful for my current primary care doctor and therapist who have no problem answering all my questions, providing me resources and not recommending things I don’t need.
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