Do No Harm

Since working as an assistant psychologist, I have consistently come to blows between qualitative and quantative explanations and arguments – I strongly believe that human thought and behaviour cannot be explained solely from the perspective of biology, that human experience cannot truly be quantified into characteristically distinct categories, and that the biopsychosocial model should utterly supersede the biomedical model in terms of explaining cognitive, mental and social deficits. However, I’m also becoming increasingly accepting of and understanding of the necessity of the rigorously defined and detached clinical language used to prescribe and describe such issues. I’m beginning to understand why a purely accademic, theoretical or a purely medical perspective needs distance from the humans it’s describing in order to work. I also know that this distance is conducive to further separation between clinician and patient, and that it can easily foster mistrust, frustration and resentment in the patient.

While I’m struggling to reconcile these into one unified set of values, practically I have separated these approaches completely. In the office or writing anything up, I adopt a clipped, detached tone, and my goal is to describe – identify useful information and communicate it effectively. With any patient, I am present, and my goal is to facilitate; to guide, to help, to assist, to empathise, to listen, to hear. And never the twain shall meet!

Seeing as I hold two conflicting ideals and have not resolved the arising conflicts between each, my behaviour must be in direct conflict between my self. It’s not cognitive dissonance if I’m aware of it, but it’s impossible for me to act in a way that’s concurrent with what I believe when I’m currently trying to make binary points into a circle (I’m pretty sure if I were to try and force them to meet in the middle they would explode).

Someone brought up the idea that to practice psychology one must be without conflict themselves in order to clearly percieve the jagged edges in others. We all agreed this as silly. The idea that one must ‘have themselves together’ in order to piece anyone else together is inherently flawed, because everyone is always in a state of flux, and change, and shifting perspectives. The best we can do is treat our patients as we aspire to treat ourselves – with kindness, patience, empathy, and warmth.

WIP (mdt)


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