Brain Damage, Part I: Clinical Complacence




Anti_Stigmatization.jpgPeople with ADD get a day, but brain damage gets the month of March. March seems like a good month for brain damage awareness. However long the winter feels, March is when spring starts to enter our minds. The first warmer breezes are not far off (if you’re in the northern hemisphere and you’re out of the more tropical regions). And indeed, for many of those recovering from brain damage it is a long winter, and the first hints of hope and recovery offer some welcome warmth.

Nonetheless, brain damage is the last true refuge of bigotry in the developed world, as I’ll explain in part two. Let’s start with clinical complacence, since cognitive problems are at the top of my current Top Ten Secrets of the Mental Health Field.

In this series, I’m going to share some stories about brain damage including problems with the treatment community — with clinicians such as psychotherapists and psychiatrists. I hope you get mad, scared, and inspired. In my own experience of recovery, I’ve been through more emotions than I knew I had.

People who appear to be well put together, and who can speak reasonably well may have very serious problems brewing as a result of cognitive problems, but no one they encounter, including mental health professionals, are likely to assess them, educate them, refer them, or do anything else about the problem.

I once chastised a psychiatrist for not dealing with signs of brain injury. He said (I am not making this up, I’m so disturbed by this, I can barely keep from printing his name), “Well, there’s no pill for that.” Is that what you’d say about an illness that doesn’t suffer from the stigma and denial that penetrates even into the world of clinicians for this problem?

Inoperable brain cancer would yield referrals for proper care and preparedness for the inevitable. No pill for that, indeed! But not for cognitive issues that aren’t obvious. Why not a referral for rehabilitative services? Why not a referral for counseling focused on preventing going into a tailspin financially or otherwise? Why not help recognizing what is going on? No, it’s better to ignore the issue entirely, and stick with a diagnosis that you can prescribe pills for.

I chastised another psychiatrist for not being concerned about brain damage issues. He said that he worked for the mental health system, and they absolutely did not fund for that issue. That would be something the activists would have to work on if they wanted that. He said it with such complacency, so thoughtlessly… but I won’t print his name, either.

In part two, I’ll provide a heap of mini-examples from society in general, just to set the tone, then move into some disturbing clinical examples.

  • Yaelle Glenn

    You dont know how much I appreciate this article. I’ve been running around for 3 years trying to get doctors & other medical staff to realize that I have brain damage & need help for it not to be chastised or locked away or ignored. 3 years ago while in the military I found out I had a brain tumor (pituitary adenoma OR hypothalamic hamartoma?? no one has ever decided) and every day since the day I got to the point where I can think (sort of think) I’ve been looking for cognitive & memory help and people who are supposed to be medical professionals have like no idea what the heck they’re doing! Maybe its because I’ve been dealing with the VA & the Navy/Army doctors but youd be shocked if you knew how quick they wanted to discard me as a nutjob or whatever. Then they wanted to say I was malingering… then people hear brain tumor or damage so they immediately jump to send me on the crazy train…Its impossible to find anyone who can look at my problems, realize I’m not faking to get out of the military (already out now) or to get money or sympathy or whatever and just give me some darn help if there is any for this! So I just wanted to let you know that it happens on a really damaging level. Thanks, Yaelle Glenn

  • It’s amazing what people go through, as if the injury weren’t enough. I didn’t go into advocacy, and your letter shows how much it is needed. DrDiane.com is by a psychologist who went through brain damage recovery, and who has various articles and services for people dealing with brain damage and cognitive impairment. She has a helpful book, Coping with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.

    Regards,

    – Bob

    Robert A. Yourell

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  • Pingback: Brain Damage, Part II: The Last Refuge of Bigotry | GNIF Brain Blogger()

Robert A. Yourell, MA

Robert A. Yourell, MA, has extensive experience in the mental health and social services dating back to 1975. His training includes Ericksonian communication and hypnosis with John Grinder, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing with Francine Shapiro, PhD, Body Integrative Psychotherapy with Jack Rosenberg, PhD, and solution-focused psychotherapy. He provides free audio experiences on his site that include bilateral sound and Shimmering.

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