No, you’re just fucking stupid. That is, according to a psychiatrist on a radio show.
While I think that’s a bit harsh, the guy had some valid points. While I don’t think test anxiety means you’re stupid, it also doesn’t mean it’s a valid mental disorder in need of Xanax.
I’d say it likely means you’re chronically unprepared for tests, or you come from a family that puts a lot of pressure on you to succeed academically and you’re terrified of disappointing them. And…you probably do.
I’m sorry to say I don’t remember what the radio station, nor the name of the show. It was a roundtable of “experts” from the field of mental health and they were discussing the new DSM (Psychiatric Bible that lists every psych disorder).
Even some mainstream psychiatrists are starting to realize what a load it all is, but it’s difficult to go against the machine.
One psychiatrist said (and this is paraphrased because I didn’t record the show. It’s pretty close, though, because midway, I started typing as he spoke):
One month the trend is bipolar disorder, the next it’s borderline personality disorder. Someone could chart this, if they had access to the diagnosis codes and see the trends.
I have patients who are in real pain. And I have patients who think a hangnail is a major mental health crisis. Those in really bad shape come from horrible backgrounds of abuse and terror. It’s not biological, but we haven’t figured out a one-size-fits-all treatment. So we as psychiatrists have been trained to spin a roulette wheel of medications. We pass out a label based on a list of self-reported symptoms, so that basically the patient is telling us what his label should be. We have no way of verifying any of it.
What other medical specialty does that? I’ve spent my entire career believing what I was taught in medical school, but I’ve come to the realization that it’s not only wrong, but it’s a farce.
Unfortunately, we don’t have clear alternatives to psychiatric meds, and people always want the quick fix. Psychiatrists know this. Most just turn their heads and try to convince themselves what they’re doing makes a difference. It does make a difference: in our wallets.
If you admit that your entire profession, psychiatry, is based on nothing more than controlling people and passing out medications that work because patients think they work, then what’s left?
So we still write prescriptions for medications that make things worse, talk a lot about finding the right cocktail, and pacify our patients with a pat on the head and tell them it’s not their fault. It’s genetics or it’s faulty neurons.
That doesn’t mean we should go around yelling at patients and reverting to the old bootstrap therapy. But patients have to take responsibility for their care. They have to learn to fight back against the demons.
I had a patient come in, and he was in great distress. He said he had test anxiety and had read he could take Xanax to combat it.
Test anxiety? Everyone has test anxiety. It’s an excuse.
I wanted to simply say “No, it’s not test anxiety, you’re just fucking stupid.” But obviously I have to play the role of compassionate doctor.
And then the show erupted into a discussion and I got tired of typing.
If these psychiatrists would just skip the medications and go straight to the electroshock, the world would be a lot better place. Shock on!