I’m back at __________ Hospital having completed my credentialing process and I’m amped to be doling out the mental health. I’m like one of those gunslingers who swings open the doors at the saloon ready to blow people away. Except instead of a Derringer or a Smith & Wesson I have a ‘You too can Have High Self-Esteem’ handout on one hip and a Positive Thoughts Worksheet on the other. That’s how I roll.
Even though I work in the Department of Surgery I sometimes go by Outpatient Psychiatry to be among my own kind. Today outside the main door was a male administrator, late 40′s, well-dressed and groomed. He was speaking to a man who was in all likelihood a patient at the hospital. The man was about 60 and overweight, had a few nervous twitches and was speaking in a soft voice. He was unshaven and his clothes were tattered. I have a guess that he might suffer from Schizophrenia. I’ve seen him before in a worse way, responding anxiously to voices and people that no one else could hear or see. Today however he seemed much healthier and functional.
“I! Hope! You! Have! A! Good! Day! Today!” the administrator yelled. Was the man hard of hearing? I suppose it was possible as some people seem to think that deaf people can hear them if they just scream loud enough.
“Me too,” said the patient.
“Yes! You know what?! You’re a good person, don’t you know that?!” the administrator shouted again.
The patient was clearly able to hear him so the yelling clearly wasn’t necessary. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was driving my mood, but I was getting really annoyed at the way the administrator was speaking. Then it hit me that it wasn’t simply the volume, it was patronizing tone that he was using, the way one might speak to an infant. “Such a good man you are, so polite, and you take your medicine just like the nice doctor man told you too!” I’m surprised he didn’t pat him on the head and give him one of those oversized rainbow lollypops just for taking his Haldol.
Dr. Rob Soapbox Moment:
This is bullshit. Not that anyone listens to me but if by chance someone actually does pay attention to this: do not talk down, condescendingly or patronizingly to the mentally ill. Why people do this is not entirely clear to me. I’m not sure if it’s because we are afraid of people with mental illness or think they’re stupid or that we are skeptical of anyone who is different but the reality is that it is insulting and disrespectful. In graduate school a patient in the psychiatric ward told me, “The staff here talk to me like I’m in pre-school. I’m still an adult even if I’m fucked in the head.” It’s a fair point.
We seem to use this same patronizing tone with the elderly and the homeless. The only people who should be spoken to like children are children (and even that is open to debate). I was going to give the administrator a verbal smackdown and tell his ignorant ass to get it together and start speaking like a normal person but he jumped into his Douche Mobile (some obnoxiously yellow Hummer) and drove away. Probably out of fear of my wrath. I hope it costs him $400 to fill up that gas tank.
I’m off the soapbox for now but I’m still pissed off. Fortunately I have my anger management workbook on hand so I should be better off come my next post. Stay on my good side until then.