Sometimes Psychiatrists Are Just Assholes
I recently had an awful experience seeing a psychiatrist for an introductory appointment that I wrote about here. It went so badly that I wondered if there something wrong with me, if I’d lost the ability to talk to a new psychiatrist for the first time without it quickly flying off the rails.
So I was more nervous than usual when I saw a new doctor at the same place I saw my old doctor (which should have been a red flag). My concerns turned out to be justified. Five minutes in, I got a huge creep vibe from the guy. He was condescending, patronizing and arrogant. At one point I said that I felt like I had a form of postpartum depression around the time my wife gave birth to our son and he chucklingly assured me that as a man I could not suffer from that. I don’t know what irritated me more, that he took such delight in correcting me or that he thought that was something to chuckle about.
He would continually reprimand me if I looked at my phone if I got a text or interrupted him or talked over him and I got so pissed off that I flat out told him that he was being super rude and condescending to me and that I would not be returning. I started the appointment off by saying that I just needed prescriptions for two anti-depressants I’d been on forever and that because I lived forty minutes away, I’d be looking for a permanent psychiatrist closer to where I lived. But that did not keep this psychiatrist from acting like this was an audition to win a coveted slot as one of his patients that I was failing horribly because I did not show him the proper respect a man in his position deserved.
I hate conflict but this man was being so rude and so insulting that I felt like I had to speak up for myself or I’d be simmering with rage for the rest of the day. The session just kind of ended and he didn't get up to shake my hand or walk me out. I just left. It was easily the worst experience I’d ever had with a psychiatrist, and I’ve been in therapy for close to two decades.
After the appointment, I was so rattled and so upset that I took to a website that allows you to review doctors. I was not surprised to see that Doctor Giggles had received a steady stream of one star reviews full of phrases identical to the ones that littered the review that I quickly wrote: “rude”, “condescending”, “arrogant, “asshole”, “I left the appointment feeling much worse than I did coming in”, and “an awful, awful man with an awful beard.”
It looks like just about everyone had the same reaction to the psychiatrist that I did. I felt a little vindicated. I wasn’t some impossible patient making things hard on a guy trying to do his job: other people got a nuclear level douchebag vibe from this fellow as well. My gut was right. This guy was a creep.
If I’d had this experience when I was in my twenties, I think I would have processed it much differently than I did as a forty-one year old. I would have been more likely to buy into the psychiatrist’s interpretation of the experience, that I had failed him as a potential patient by not being deferential and focused and clear enough, and should feel ashamed and guilty.
I would have been intimidated by his education and expertise, the way we tend to be around people with highly specialized, essential knowledge . He was a doctor, after all, with all of the education and authority that goes along with that. He was the one who’d spent year upon year in grad school, learning the mysteries of the human mind. Who was I to challenge his authority?
I feel differently these days. Watching him chuckle at my pain and ooze passive-aggressive resentment over what he clearly saw as my lack of proper respect I just saw a dude I’d meet at a party (if I were, of course, the kind of person who met people at parties, or went to parties, or left his apartment) drinking a micro-brew, stroking his beard pretentiously and discoursing at length about some bullshit who I would hate immediately.
This guy was just an asshole and his attempts to assert his superiority, like when he snottily answered my insistence that I would never return by asserting that he could choose not to accept me as a patient, just felt like the pathetic over-compensation of the deeply insecure.
I respect the hell out of psychiatrists who deserve respect and who treat their patients with respect, just the way I would with any doctor. But I’m not going to tremble with reverence and awe because someone has the power to prescribe medication.
As one of my fellow patient/sufferers/reviewers noted in their own one star review of the doctor, going to see a psychiatrist shouldn’t be the kind of traumatic experience you want to go see a psychiatrist to talk about and work through afterwards. But talking to this doctor about my depression, anxiety and stress made me feel substantially more depressed, anxious and stressed.
I’ve written before about how writing about my emotions for this site is a form of therapy. So it seems somehow fitting that I am now using writing-therapy to work through the awful experience I had during actual therapy. And this shit is free! I wish I could compensate you for for listening to me complain, but all I can pay you with is my perspective and my pain.
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