Posted 10/11/2018 6:28 PM (GMT -6)
This will be a fairly long post, I’m afraid…
about 3.5 years ago, I was diagnosed with Bipolar (I think type 2 but it may well have been type 1), and forced to remain in a psych ward for 13 days, much longer than others so diagnosed during my stay. I was ordered to take the prescribed med (backed by official state power) for at least six months (or was it a year?) or be forcibly hospitalized. I don't recall the initial drug prescribed, but before long I was approved to change it to risperidone.
The problem is that any bipolar diagnosis was incorrect, even though it seemed to fall under the DSM guidelines, because on two previous occasions I presented with apparent symptoms of hypomania and requested voluntary hospitalization.
I say the diagnosis was incorrect and described “apparent” symptoms of hypomania because I’ve since learned the correct diagnosis: Brief Psychotic Disorder. And unlike the more typical case of BPD, which can last a month or more, in mine “brief” meant less than 24 hours! After 6-8 hours of sleep, every time I was completely back to normal, as my family observed when visiting me the next day.
Rather than being hypomanic, I was actually delusional, which is a symptom of psychosis. In that most recent instance, I believed I had some kind of “magical” powers, including the power to change people’s age, appearance, and sexual preference (I’m gay and thought I could somehow make good-looking males sexually attracted to me, although I never “hit” on anyone, and never hit anyone either – i.e., no attempted violence). I thought that I could perform this and other “magical powers” via sing-song mantras, which I kept talk-singing in my Dad's car all the way to the hospital and inside.
As an aside for those who have never experienced a psychotic delusion, I need to emphasize the shocking, almost unbelievable power and extent of this bizarre experience. For example, I was convinced that I was able to control specific parts of physical reality, and did so to a large extent deliberately, as a result of employing my mantras. But sometimes my magic failed to work, so I “figured” that my conscious control was imperfect. However, I also “knew” billboards and street signs changed virtually immediately after I first looked at them, but I didn’t think I had willfully altered them, in part because I hadn’t used my “magic mantras” to change them, but primarily because I was surprised by their content. Instead, I thought that they had been “redesigned” by my unconscious mind based on whatever had randomly floated through my imagination, as in dreams.
Now, you may imagine that I could only “see” the “changed” billboards and street signs and the like only murkily and hazily. Absolutely not! They were all completely clear, perfect, and obviously the design of skilled artisans/artists (among whom I most definitely do not belong). And their magically revised reality brooked no doubt whatsoever. These and other aspects were as vivid and undeniable as I observe stubbornly unaccommodating physical reality today. That’s the most shocking thing about that class of delusions. You’d never expect such a thing unless you experienced it yourself!
Anyway, you may well -- and should -- ask yourselves why the admitting doctor(s) and other intake personnel didn’t take note of this ridiculous, high-pitched, quiet semi-singing and use this information to guide their diagnosis, which I can’t help but think would and should have eliminated hypomania and bipolar from consideration, but that didn’t happen.
The point of this post is that, for obviously unjust reasons, I now have a medical and state history of bipolar disorder, meaning that it’s almost inevitable that any future mental health problem will now falsely be attributed to being bipolar and thus may well require extended hospitalization again. That is completely unacceptable to me!
So here I’m asking: What can and should I do to prevent this false diagnosis from happening again?
It’s important to note that I disagreed quite strongly with the bipolar label all along. As part of my strong rejection of this bogus diagnosis, I told the two main psychiatrists at that hospital that I would refuse to take their medication. I now see that was a very foolish thing to say, because it very probably resulted in my over-long hospitalization and the state’s orders that I comply with the med regimen or else.
I was also ordered to see a psychiatrist regularly, at least in part so that he could ensure that I kept taking the risperidone. But actually I stopped taking it cold turkey the day after I was released. This had absolutely zero negative effects and definite positive effects in my mental health.
I’ve been a critical thinker for 35 years, and by far the primary, most crucial yet also most difficult target of such thinking must always be oneself. I have little respect for those who call themselves critical thinkers but employ it primarily in criticizing others – they are intellectual frauds, in my view. I used these skills to thoroughly search my mind to illuminate all the dozens of my own cognitive biases that could and would prevent me from accepting a fair diagnosis of bipolar disorder. This was, as always, an extremely challenging task, particularly because at the time I knew of no alternative diagnosis that would fit the facts more accurately and fairly. I had never heard of Brief Psychotic Disorder. I just knew with strong but rationally justified confidence that I had never experienced the mental highs and subsequent lows that characterize bipolar disorder (though I’ve long felt strong empathy and sympathy for those whose lives are affected by this troubling situation).
I then carefully exercised my critical thinking skills to calmly, but without backing down, argue with my outpatient psychiatrist that I had been falsely diagnosed with bipolar. Unfortunately, such attempts failed utterly! It was completely fruitless because this insufficiently competent doctor:
A) Was not a very critical thinker; which I contend is regrettably too common in psychiatrists due to the serious problems with the design and typical usage of the DSM on the one hand, and on the other, the lingering, damaging influence of quacks like Freud (who for years thought psychiatric problems were somehow related to the patient’s nose, of all things!), and the overwhelming majority of psychoanalysts as well as the egregiously anti-scientific nature of virtually all of psychoanalysis.
B) Kept rejecting my arguments due, he asserted, to the fact that highly intelligent patients such as myself couldn’t be trusted not to lie convincingly. Talk about a Catch 22! That would mean that essentially nothing a sufficiently intelligent and rational patient says should be considered in making a diagnosis!! Unless it’s considered somehow aberrant in the opinion of the doctor, I sadly presume.
What can any such victim of false diagnosis possibly do to counter such abject foolishness? We can’t seek redress in court because the law stubbornly insists that at least one other psychiatrist must testify against the other(s), which is extremely unlikely.
So I close this post with the same question: What can and should I do to correct the diagnostic record without involving a lawsuit?
Thanks for reading all that!