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The APA is going to “Occupy Medicine?” Let’s show them a REAL occupation! 01/24/2012

Posted by ALT in Mental Health Policy and Inititatives, Patient Rights and Advocacy.
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6 comments

The APA must have an almost supernaturally subtle sense of humor and irony – the finest and most unflinching I have ever encountered.

Or else they are so steeped in hypocrisy that even the most blatant contradictions, the most horrendous lies (cross-referenced, of course), are fervently preached as gospel truth.  A pack of true believers, indeed.

There’s a spirit of unrest sweeping this country – the recent and successful PIPA/SOPA internet blackout protest, the various “Occupy” movements, the multiple student protests on college and occasionally high school campuses being a few examples.  People are getting stirred up. 

Well, the APA doesn’t want to be left out.  Let it be known that they, too, can occupy something!

“Occupy Medicine: Reclaiming our lost leadership”

A call to arms was issued in the January edition of the APA’s journal, the Psychiatric Times.  It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry bloody tears of frustration.  Let’s try to laugh, shall we?

It begins like this:

Maybe the “Occupy Wall Street” movement suggests a different kind of protest …What about “Occupy Medicine” for us psychiatrists? This may sound somewhat ridiculous, given that psychiatrists still make a good living, but we are surely in the 99% of medicine. In fact, we may be in the lower 1% for reimbursement… I’m often struck that plumbers make more per hour.

- H. Steven Moffic in “Occupy Medicine” Psychiatric Times article

Now this article is posted right next to the “Psychiatry Compensation Survey 2011,” an annual survey regarding income and income satisfaction of APA members, on the Psychiatric Times website. The average income of these 99%-ers was neatly displayed in colorful pie graphs just inches away from Moffic’s petulant cries for protest.

[click to enlarge

The majority of psychiatrists make over $175,000/yr, yet Moffic proudly proclaims them an oppressed part of the “99%”!  Is this that subtle sense of irony again?

Oh, and plumbers do NOT make more money.

As near as I can tell (and they didn’t include much information about their survey methods, so it’s hard to say for sure) – but it appears that this survey only counts money directly obtained through practicing psychiatry.  So it does NOT include any “extra” income, like money from pharmaceutical companiesYou know, honoraria, “lectures,” “consulting,” “research,” etc.  Considering that 1 in 4 doctors offer these kinds of “services” to pharma, adding that income would further enhance their salaries.

Nevertheless, over 40% of the psychiatrists surveyed were “disappointed” with their level of income. 

Yes, psychiatrists are a downtrodden lot.  Much has been taken from them.  For example:

Other medical and mental health professionals have taken over our business to a great extent.  Take primary care physicians, who now prescribe well over half of psychiatric medication prescriptions, despite evidence of limited expertise and success.

-Dr. Moffic

“Limited expertise and success,” eh?  One could surely say the same about psychiatrists!   But I digress…

Where psychiatrists are really bleeding money is in the land of diagnosis, which should, according to Moffic, be their own exclusive province. 

Where we’ve really given up our product is in diagnosis. Though the APA has put out the official diagnostic manuals in the United States for decades, it opened up its use to any clinician who claimed enough expertise and knowledge. The APA makes a lot of money selling these manuals to other clinicians, who far outnumber psychiatrists, but what does this do to our role and status? …

Psychiatry is a strange kind of business. We’ve given out our products for free, then watched as other businesses—whether they be other types of clinicians or insurance companies—take over what we do… as important as what the diagnostic criteria should be, so is who is qualified to use them.

- Dr. Moffic [emphasis added]

Their “products?”  But I thought the DSM was an objective, scientifically-derived set of criteria defining real, biologically-based diseases?  And psychiatry a scientific discipline, not a business?

Clearly, an occupation is needed, so that psychiatrists can reclaim the [additional] wealth that is rightfully theirs.  There are some barriers, however.  You see, according to Moffic “psychiatrists tend to caring and compassion,” and so they have passively allowed the oppression thus far.  But Moffic remains hopeful:

Thankfully, the anti-psychiatry movement has died down. In an unexpected way, there’s more of a pro-psychiatry movement becoming embedded in our systems. These are our patient consumers and peer specialists. Could they be recruited as our advance force for Occupy Medicine? Who knows better?  Most naturally our patients and their families know what the illnesses have caused them to lose and what they need to recover.

-Dr. Moffic

Oh, that’s rich.

What say ye, psychiatric survivors?  Would you like to join forces with the APA in demanding that psychiatrists make more money?  Let’s catapult them into the top 1%, where they belong! 

Anybody? No?

Let me present an alternative

One that may be more to your liking.

In the run-up to the release of the DSM-V on May 5th, Mind Freedom International [MFI] is urging its members to “Occupy Normal.”  It is a “fight to stop corporate and government sponsored brain damage, trauma and an epidemic of human suffering” by “occupying the mental health system.” 

They have a number of ways you can participate listed on their website.  Additionally, a large protest is planned for that fateful day – May 5th – in Philadelphia, the site of the APA conference where the DSM-V will officially be released.  Lots of influential folks in the anti-psychiatry movement (which is alive and well, thank you very much Dr. Moffic!) will be there, including Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic.

Now what say ye, psychiatric survivors, peer supporters, and people who think critically about mental health in our society?  Is this an occupation more to your liking?

Oh, yeah.

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