Working outside the dominant biomedical narrative can feel perilous and sometimes even risky. Taking a critical perspective of psychiatry (mental health care more broadly), a field that seems to be personal (in some way) to almost everyone, means the threat of backlash is ever-looming, and an all too common experience for many of us who are critical of mainstream positions and practices.
Just as challenging to bear is the nagging sense of frustration that change – real change – isn’t happening, or isn’t happening on a scale that is genuinely meaningful.
And then a story comes along in the popular press that suggests change is happening. On May 17th, the New York Times published, ‘Doctors Gave Her Antipsychotics. She decided to Live With Her Voices’.
The media has a long-standing history of uncritically accepting and perpetuating the biomedical narrative of ‘mental illness’. Daniel Bergner’s story is good reason to hope that real change is actually happening.