|The doctor game||Jul. 5, 2009|
|Provided by: Sun Media|
|Written by: DOCTOR GIFFORD-JONES|
Are you worried that you may need psychological help? Or have you been diagnosed with an emotional illness and desire a second opinion? Today, getting speedy appointments isn't easy if you're concerned about mental illness. But there is a way to solve this dilemma. And what should you know about embalmed psychiatrists?
Dr. Michael Van Ameringen is co-director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario. He recently reported to the meeting of the American Psychiatric Association how the internet can be used to help people self-diagnose emotional illness. Or how the web can also suggest you're not too crazy.
This university study, called MACSCREEN, is available at www.macanxiety.com. It suggests over one hundred questions to assess your emotional status. I wish I were a fly on the wall to see how many readers click on this web site!
You might wonder whether I bothered to answer the questionnaire? You bet I did, out of sheer curiosity to see how it worked. You should also know that I flunked the test by stating that I don't like snakes. This placed me in the phobia category, and MACSREEN says I need help. But I was not alone in getting an E grade.
Dr. Ameringen reported that 90 percent of respondents who took the test met the criteria for a specific problem and should seek treatment. So it's hoped that the MACSCREEN test in the future will speed up the process of getting help to those suffering from anxiety or mood disorders.
Again this study reminded me of what were once called "Ma Bell" psychiatrists in New York City. This wasn't a Big Apple gimmick. Rather, citizens of that city, who preferred to remain anonymous, could "dial-a-shrink" for help.
New Yorkers no longer had to lie on a couch. Anyone who thought they needed emotional help could call between 10a.m. and 10 p.m. All they needed was a credit card and a willingness to pay X dollars every 10 minutes.
Dr. Kathleen Habner, the project founder, reported, "Our critics say we lose important information by not being face-to-face. But people tell us their problems in the first few minutes (why not, when it's an expensive telephone call?) whereas help may take several sessions of face-to-face interviews. And by using the telephone, anonymity makes this a powerful tool."
I see some merit in both of these approaches. Mail from readers that reaches my desk often complains that face-to-face interviews with physicians are no longer what they were in the past. Time has become an expensive commodity. All too often patients leave their doctor's office without adequate explanation of their problem. That causes further needless worry.
Several years ago, a psychiatrist in Halifax wrote, with tongue in cheek, that he could help his patients should he himself suffer a devastating illness. For instance, if he lost his eyesight he could always listen to patients. Even if he lost both arms he could still dictate his notes. And if illness forced him into a wheelchair all was not lost. His secretary would be available to assist him.
But what if he died? He said this would still not be the end of assistance to his patients. He suggested that the funeral director could embalm his body and place him in a chair. Then the chair could be programmed to tilt forward every few minutes so patients would believe he was listening to them, and his nod would reassure them.
Today, rapidly changing times cause anxiety and worry. The MACSCREEN web site is one way of helping those suffering such grief. They can obtain psychological care as quickly as possible. I'm also sure that anyone who is troubled would prefer telephone help to no help at all.
But obtaining psychiatric help from an embalmed psychiatrist in a rocking chair?
Hmmm, I'll leave that decision to you.
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