A Psychiatrist Looks at Recovery And Finds it Wanting

There is something to be said for challenging our attitudes and shaking up our systems every decade or so, trying to improve them. Improve them, review them, discuss them, reorganize them, improve them. Even if it is really only putting old wine in new bottles. The new bottles can create a buzz, some excitement, add some energy, or, to use one of those terrible management phrases, achieve “stakeholder buy-in.”

But language is important, especially when we use unassailable words, feel good words to hide something quite different. The Pro-Life Movement. Who could object to that? Until you realize it is really an anti-choice movement, and that it ignores the reality of the suffering and deaths of millions of young women around the world.

And in all our systems, not least in Mental Health and Mental Illness treatment, we are fond of forming a myriad of committees and steering groups, planning groups, focus groups that create a language of their own, and formulate, vote on, and sanction such meaningless phrases as,

“Co-occurring issues and conditions are an expectation, not an exception.
The foundation of a recovery partnership is an empathic, hopeful, integrated, strength-based relationship.
All people with co-occurring conditions are not the same, we all have a responsibility to provide co-occurring capable services.
When co-occurring issues and conditions co-exist, each issue or condition is considered to be primary.
Recovery involves moving through stages of change and phases of recovery for each co-occurring condition.
Progress occurs through adequately supported, adequately rewarded skill-based learning for each co-occurring condition or issue. ”

–and then, on paper, design the most cumbersome and impossible organizational structure to carry out this mission, this formulation.

I get tired just thinking about it.

Usually such organizations and arrangements are wasteful but benign and fall by the wayside in a few years. But a few can be both wasteful and destructive.

Now the “recovery movement”, or “recovery model.” Who could object to the word “recovery”?

Until you look closely at it’s origins and implications.



Done correctly and with proper motives, directive and compassion. (leaders?) We CAN achieve things rather quickly. Unfortunately, too often, the political/financial profitability often stifles these things.

I read this article today. Nate Silver is a smart fella. Read The Signal and the Noise.

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I get tired of just thinking about thinking about it.

(I gave up mental masturbation for lent. I never took it back.)