A psychologist disrupting a psychometrist's testing sessions to ask questions, obtain items from the testing room, and even to introduce another patient -- because it would have been an inconvenience to wait A psychologist deleting critical safety recommendation from an intern's report
- A psychologist stating he didn't need to read the new manual for a radically revised test, then disagreeing with the intern about conclusions based on new norms
- A psychologist using cheap photocopies of test materials and cutting corners in administration because s/he wasn't getting paid what s/he thought s/he was worth to do the work right
Staff psychologists and professors sexually harassing students, interns, and nursing staff Staff psychologists attempting to influence interns' communications with site visitors from certifying bodies Senior psychologist telling junior psychologist, who was asking for help with staff management problems on her unit, "Buck up, Bucko!"
- Psychologist telling intern, "[Expletive deleted] rolls downhill. And you're downhill."
- The psychologist leading a supervision group being dismissive of supervisees' input, actively discouraging such participation as "taking over my group"
- Clinical faculty blowing off supervision appointments and seminar meetings required to meet state licensing standards and then threatening interns who complain
Inadequate supervision of students and staff (when the arrogant psychologist just can't be bothered) translates into patient abuse going unchecked, and in patient neglect. Patients in turn are inadequately supervised or under- or mis-treated, resulting in self-injuries, untreated medical issues, assaults, suicide attempts, elopements, and deaths. I am not just speaking theoretically here, either: These things have actually taken place.
Then there's the arrogant dismissal of patients' needs and lived experiences. We have
A psychologist commenting in reference to a severely mentally ill patient s/he deems hopeless, "I can heal the sick but I can't raise the dead!"
- A center director considering it taken as read that a person with schizophrenia (most of the center's caseload) is incapable of participating in hir own treatment planning
- Psychologists failing to advocate appropriately for minor clients or to support self-advocacy in adults
Psychologist making fun of a client's parenting style Psychologist blaming dead victim of domestic violence (parent of a child client) for getting into/not leaving the relationship
The experience of stigma is, by the way, a known health risk. By copping an attitude that we are better than our clients (because we are thinner or healthier or more fit, better-educated or more financially well-off -- any measure seems to be fair game these days), not only are we not being helpful, we're actively making our clients' mental and physical health worse. We're putting tremendous pressure on our students and staff, who are, after all, exposed to our prejudices many more hours each week than are our clients, and we're setting terrible examples for them.
Psychologists using patients to house-sit
- Psychologist using client to help pack up office at retirement
- Psychologist having intern come in to clean the office on the intern's off days
- Psychologists using students and patients to buttle parties in their homes, and
- Faculty using students to babysit.
I think part of the problem is that we live in a cultural climate of general disrespect. We are always attuned to matters of class and rank, to where we stand in the pecking order -- and woe betide anyone on the rungs below. And then of course there are some people who just seem, as individuals, to be particularly arrogant/disrespectful. We've all known at least a few: No one, it seems, is safe from their disdain or their verbal abuse.
Plus, with some psychologists, there's a tendency to overvalue the doctorate, to demand respect for themselves while believing it somehow frees them from the obligation to show respect for others who might be just as smart, just as knowledgeable, but who for one reason or another, lack the diploma. They seem blissfully unaware that there is often no difference in intelligence or drive between them and the therapist with a masters--or, for that matter, the parapro with the high school diploma. To a degree (if you'll pardon the pun) the difference is often only a matter of privilege: The "I'm-a-doctor-and-don't-you-ever-forget-it" crowd as often as not are people who were born on third base but think they hit a triple.
And speaking of triples, sometimes you get the triple-whammy -- a psychologist who is (1) not only a product of hir culture but who also is (2) particularly self-important and who (3) takes too much credit for the achievement of a degree which is in itself overvalued*. . . and you have someone who is especially bad for morale, disruptive to the work of the unit/practice/facility/team, and who is potentially downright dangerous to patients.
Get people like that at the top of the office heap, and they tend to run off the folks who aren't like them and hire more who are, until the whole culture of the institution, be it a huge psychiatric hospital or tiny private practice, will be disrespectful. And when that happens, patients beware!
I don't know what we can do about it, other than shout out,
- Find out what it means to me!
*Trust me, it's not all that special -- there are thousands of us in the state of Georgia alone.