I chanced upon a blog, Candid psychiatrist: giving contemporary psychiatry the good spanking it deserves. I found therein an interesting essay entitled “The Psychiatrist Cop” that begins:
Years ago it dawned on me that part of my job has nothing whatsoever to do with addressing the clinical complaints of my patients, but rather with enforcing the social order. As a practicing psychiatrist, I am part cop–expected by society to exercise control over the socially disruptive and presumably dangerous behaviors exhibited by the “mentally ill”, and obliged to protect patients from themselves whether they want me to or not.
What complicates my execution of this duty is the fact that I’m pretty much a libertarian by nature (with the notable exception of advocating universal health care). It’s the reason I’ve always preferred outpatient practice–where I’m challenged to use my powers of persuasion to coax a reluctant patient into accepting treatment, rather than holding them captive on a hospital ward. I respect and enjoy the diversity of human experience that I encounter in my work, and hold the personal belief that “the pursuit of happiness” offered in the Declaration of Independence was a driving purpose for the creation of this experimental nation. If I had my druthers, that chronically suicidal adult patient–who’s spent every monthly appointment of the past seven years convincing me that their life is unremittingly miserable–might with due consideration have the freedom to end that misery without my interference.
Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.