Combatting Misdiagnosis & Misunderstanding

Clinical protocol in determining if a condition meets the criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis is to rule out medical causes and/or factors which contribute to the presented symptoms. Unfortunately, my experience in over 30 years of practice in community mental health and clinical psychology has shown that this was rarely completed. This was not always the individual physician’s fault. Prevailing medical research historically has dismissed conditions as hysteria, or of psychological origin, when the statistics and testing methods have been minimally supporting a medical cause or factor. In addition, there has been, and continues to be, limited funds for extensive testing, especially if it has not been fully proven. It is also common in communicating that a new paradigm has gained acceptance, showing medical aspects of a condition, is very slow in circulating among physicians who have often been indoctrinated to see a condition as psychological.

This places the clinical psychologist, especially a medical psychologist, in a very difficult position. As forensic psychology has evolved, the legal “proven evidence” and “prevailing wisdom” has sometimes overshadowed healthy, professional curiosity, and willingness to be thorough. This has caused some psychologists to be overtly sceptical of what patients tell them to the point that a therapeutic relationship is nearly impossible. With the lack of support from the medical community, in cases where it does not match the current paradigm, psychologists can either be seen as maverick, incompetent, or “enabling delusions,” when, in fact, they may be simply unable to rule out the medical complaints the patient reports. This is where professional humility must take over, and the phrase, “given currently available medical findings” is most likely used.

Additional complications in giving clinical opinions which are “unpopular” is if there are conspiracies which are in fact true. I remember when a patient with a well documented case of Lyme Disease came to me and was literally traumatized by the attitudes, and the treatment, she had received prior to her official diagnosis. Similar cases can be found in the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, which has since been found to have solid physiological evidence, even though, it is appearing that there are in fact multiple etiologies and conditions involved.

Currently, there are areas of controversy regarding environmental diseases which add to this struggle. The controversy becomes even worse when it would appear that acts by various groups and agencies may be willfully causing harm. In researching some of these environmental toxins, independent scientists, who are not linked to the politics and influence due to outside funding, are conducting their own research. Professionals who have followed these have been frequently labelled as rogue professionals because of the current paradigms. There is research being done on a condition which is being called Morgellon, which is not recognized by the medical community at large, being linked by some to geoengineering (i.e., chemtrails, odd snow, etc), GMO foods, and other things that are all “man-made”. Regardless of what some feel about the conspiracy theories, and the items noted above, the events relating to radiation in today’s world have done a relatively good job toward extinguishing much of life on this planet. The history of resisting any suggestion of these problems by certain agencies, makes one question the motivations of those serving the public. I have spent my professional life attempting to help people. I know many health providers that have done the same. Given the political turmoil and the interference by oversight agencies in professional practising, I decided to relocate to a country more interested in advancement in medicine and supporting the efforts of health care providers to address the medical needs of it’s citizens.

by Rory Fleming Richardson, Ph.D., ABMP

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