For many people, meeting a mental health professional could be an extremely interesting experience. Everyone has his own mental life, of which some areas are well known and crystal clear, and some other areas are a complete mystery. Hidden drives, motives, and very basic instincts will always stand like a huge impregnable fort that not everyone could even have the courage to approach. For that reason, this interesting experience- to meet a pro- could be an annoying one, as some people think of the psychiatrist or any mental health professional as a mind reader recalling that character in the “Mentalist” the great psychodrama movie. I believe that no one can easily accepts the idea of being totally exposed in front of whomever, even under full consent.
As a matter of fact, a mental health professional does not have these magic glasses that could break through your innermost self, at least that quickly. Like any other medical professional or even like in any other field, one cannot adopt the power of being ON 24/7. Imagine yourself as a mechanic; I think you would go crazy watching all cars speeding here and there in the streets to define which one is faster, and which one has the best suspension system and so on. Of course those having that weird appearance or bizarre pattern of motion will attract your attention and get you put your glasses on and start analyzing what is going wrong! The same happens here, in clinics we might give a full attention to the client, trying to elicit as much cues as we can, the way he looks, talks, even the way he is dressed, but just getting our coats off, we are back to normal life like anyone else dealing with loved ones, colleagues, store clerks just the way they are. It is only when someone’s trait or behavior is noteworthy and unusual that we may find ourselves searching for our glasses to have a closer professional glimpse.
Fortunately, because professional opinion is supposed to count, everyone should be sure that all that matters is how accurate, not how speedy, you may label someone of having some trait. It is a kind of shock when we see a colleague jumping into what he sees as certain conclusion about a politician or a celebrity in the media, as we are pretty sure he certainly knows that analyzing someone in that way is totally unprofessional. We should reserve any such analysis for the clinical office, where the setting is conducive, interactive and data sufficient to make a meaningful assessment.
In this coming series (People We Meet) we will try to shed some light on different aspects of human persona of people we meet every day, neither not to judge whomever, nor to even think of them the way we used to do, but to get the sense of how people think, behave, or feel wrapped with the more deeply embedded question of WHY they might do so. Reaching out for this will get everyone realizes some potential they might do not know they have, and more importantly they might think of the psychiatric neighbor living next door just as a psychiatrist not a magician.
Get prepared and equipped with those questions wandering in your mind about people you meet every day and follow us on the same page to navigate an all informative, interesting, and mind retuning journey.