Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

A blog about words, wordplay, and etymology, with slightly more than occasional political rants.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Behave yourself

The sign on the door to my shrink's office reads Phoenix Rising Behavioral Health. First of all Phoenix Rising. Seriously? But secondly, Behavioral Health.
When I was first looking for a psychiatrist, I couldn't find any on my old insurance provider's Web site. I had to go to a special behavioral health site for all my crazy doc needs. Statements came from United Behavioral Health. Bills came for my behavioral health services. And still, even though I'm pretty much asymptomatic, thanks to the wonders of modern pharmacology, I still fill prescriptions for my behavioral meds. 
Mental illness is not a behavior. Chemical imbalances and misfiring synapses aren't behaviors. Hearing voices is not a behavior, stress-related illnesses are not behaviors, experiencing a fight-or-flight response for no reason whatsoever is not a behavior. Calling it behavioral health makes people with mental illness sound like petulant children. Like people running around tearing off their clothes and screaming at trees and robbing banks. Not that my people and I haven't been known to scream at trees (or squirrels, or walls, or nothing at all). But those behaviors are symptoms of things that are anything but.
Folks who insist on using the word might point out that according to the psychological school of behaviorism, a behavior is anything a person thinks, feels, and does is a behavior. Well first of all, behaviorism hasn't been the prevailing school of psychology for a great many years, certainly since long before Phoenix Rising Behavioral Health opened its doors. Plus, misfiring synapses, chemical imbalances, and stress-related illnesses are also not thoughts, feelings, or actions.  
You know what a behavior is? My freaking shrink playing with his damn smart phone through our whole appointment.


Cap'n Ergo "XL+II" Jinglebollocks said...

when I first heard "Phoenix Rising" I thought, 'what, is this some sort of covert swingers club or something??' Puh-leez...

BUT you're exactly right. by saying that my depression is BEHAVIOURIAL is missing the point and the root of the cause. Well sprach.

E.V. Beebe said...

I went to them once and I swear I'll never go back. They're not professional and they don't suit my needs. They made me get this evaluation performed by some little girl half my age who read questions off a list. It was a waste of my time. I know what's wrong with me, I've alreasy been diagnosed. Knowing what I have and what's gone on in my family history, any mental health povider who actully knows what they are doing should be able to get to the point and really help.

It's very difficult for someone who has a mental illness to deal with the fact that they cannot always control they're behavior. We do the best we can, but it's like expecting someone with turrets to ALWAYS contral what comes out of their mouths. They may be able to learn techniques to subdue themselves, but it can't work 100% of the time. Knowing that poeple think what I have is "behavioral" makes me feel ashamed of myself and I really shouldn't feel any more ashamed of myself than someone who was born without a leg.