Today 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental illness. These diagnoses can be anything from anxiety, to depression, to psychosis or bi-polar disorder. Each illness varies in its effect and its degree of disability. Sadly these conditions remain suspect and misunderstood. The stigma surrounding mental health issues is so overwhelming that most people choose to suffer rather than actually access the necessary psychiatric care. For many it is not until there is a major life crisis that the medical world steps in and sadly, even then, we find that our prison system is a major response to psychiatric illness.
A new book that attempts to dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings surrounding mental illness, is written by Dr. Mark Rubinstein. In his book Bedlam’s Door, he opens up the world of psychiatry and the mental health community. He introduces us to several of his patients and tries to bring us into the reality in which they live. Whether the patient is dealing with PTSD brought on as a Holocaust survivor, suicide, uncontrollable OCD, or a manipulative psychotic, the reader begins to understand the nuances and the fine lines that the psychiatric community needs to traverse.
Every case is different, even when it is the same illness. It’s learning how to read the unwritten cues and finding a way into a person’s psyche that is the talent of a good doctor. You are drawn into the quest to help those who are calling out for help and yet have no way to help themselves. It is a look into a world that is not only misinterpreted by the uninitiated, but in many quarters, reviled for the fear and loathing it engenders.
Dr. Rubinstein, examines his patients’ humanity. He has the reader see the underlying problems, the still waters that exacerbate and alienate those who are dealing with diseases that the world cannot see. He explains how he handled each problem and gives us a follow-up. The “Aftermath” of each episode is not sugar-coated. He does not hide the truth. Not every situation ended on a positive note. As with every illness in the world, doctors can do only their best, and yet sometimes even that is not enough.
Dr. Rubinstein’s book is unique in that it presents those with mental heath conditions as the fragile human beings that they are. He shows how the medical community can help, support and provide that doorway of transition from the loneliness of mental illness back to the functioning, productive real world. He is also not afraid to show how the medical community at times fails their patients due to incompetence, misdiagnosis or even neglect. He calls out to society as a whole for understanding, compassion and respect for those dealing with these invisible, and mostly misunderstood, medical issues.
On a personal note: As anyone who has followed me for a while, you know that I write a blog called Raising Asperger’s Kids. This blog revolves around the issues we encountered in bringing up our sons, both of whom, are on the autism spectrum. Along with autism our family also deals with the issues arising out of ADHD, OCD, generalized anxiety disorder and epilepsy.
In all honesty, one of the largest problems we faced over the years is the lack of compassion by society at large. Dr. Rubinstein’s book will provide an understanding and recognition about the humanity of those dealing with various mental health conditions. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a career in social work, education, medicine, and even human resources.
I recommend this book for anyone who seeks to make the world a better place.
For more information on mental health conditions go to NAMI.org