Moving on from worldview and perception, an issue arises when considering the treatment of mental illness.
It IS possible for misdiagnosis in any situation. On Monday, Reuters recently published an article titled “Americans get too much healthcare,” which described an indivdual whose physicians did not listen: “The tale of the morphine pump.” His wife said all along what she thought the problem was and wished them to act immediately. They did not listen to her. Read more about it by clicking on the link.
In the case of mental health, The first mistake was the under-represenation of drug company facts. They do not have to report failed drug trials. They only have to publish two successful trials for FDA approval. I find it hard to believe that the two successful trials acurrately represent the American population of 307 million. They represent maybe a few thousand people. The second mistake is the lack of importance given to the placebo effect. In placebo studies, belief is everything when taking sugar pills! Believe it and it will work, which means belief produces neurochemical reactions that will react with pharmaceutical medication.
Which brings me to the third mistake and the connection to this series of articles: There is a large collection of publications gathering about cultural bias. B. Saravanan, MD of the Institute of Psyichiatry with many others are spearheading research with culture and shizophrenia. Doctor/patient beliefs affect treatment outcomes. Cultures across the globe are diverse and span the whole globe, endure the harshest climates, and adopt some of the most bizarre traditions and beliefs. This is exactly how an individual’s worldview comes into play, and how misdiagnosis can occur. Another example: I read about a woman from one of the Carribean nations. In her culture, the experiences of foreign voices in the mind are accepted as a common reaction to stress. In America, she was diagnosed with a form of psychosis and medicated. Did she need to be medicated? Probably not. Was she “sick?” Probably not. She may have just need a good massage and hot salt bath. Or maybe she suffered from a significant amount of grief, something a conselor or friend could assist her with…
Please understand I in no way wish to misadvise someone into the avoidance of help-seeking behavior. I do believe these healthcare options provide some good for many people, otherwise it wouldn’t be a multi-trillion dollar enterprise. Instead, I advise people to be a little skeptical about what they read and what they are told and hope that professionals who may be reading this may take a moment to stop and listen to their patients, considering variations in their cultural beliefs. Get a second or third or fourth opinion. Talk to others who may have no professional connection to mainstream medicine. You may be surprised, we are all smarter than we think.