Andrew Marantz's Unreality Star

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A physician is in an unenviable position; he must be omniscient, yet humble. He is accused of having a god complex yet this notion of divinity is more in the head of the patient who needs to have faith in the doctor's ability to fight off his disease. Although such expectation can be a burden, this trust is vital, particularly in treating mental illness where diagnosis is based on a patient's expressed thoughts and overt behaviours rather than solely on biological phenomena. The psychiatric patient is in a particularly vulnerable position and will be willing to reveal private details only if the doctor can develop a rapport with the patient based on empathy and trust. This requires that the doctor appreciates and understands the context of…show more content…
The essayist stresses the importance of this content when he quotes Joel Gold, a former attending psychiatrist at Belleview Hospital, “All productions of the mind have meaning. To disregard any content, no matter how psychotic it is, seems to me to be a miscarriage of what the discipline was founded on". This content in turn, is based on the environment of the patient-an interplay of his social, cultural and technological experiences. Marantz supports this with data from " The International Study on Psychotic Symptoms", a survey of eleven hundred patients from seven countries carried out between 1995 and 2004 which found, for instance, that "while schizophrenics from Christian countries often claimed to be prophets, sufferers in Pakistan, a Muslim country, rarely did, and in Shanghai paranoid people reported being pricked by poisoned needles while in Taipei, they were possessed by spirits". The role of the external environment in influencing diagnoses was also highlighted, albeit from a different perspective, in David L Rosenhan's 1973 experiment, detailed in his article, "Being Sane in Insane Places" (here it was a doctor's hospital environment influencing his diagnosis). Further,…show more content…
The stresses of continuously communicating through the internet has led to a loss in the depth and quality of our relationships. Marantz describes the life of Nick Lotz , diagnosed as being delusional, saying he would snort Adderall or Focalin and then stay up watching YouTube videos and "His laptop became his primary connection to the world. Online interactions were less taxing than face-to face conversations…". Such a lifestyle can lead to depersonalization, a condition described in Rosenhan's study. He describes a mental hospital where "personal privacy is minimal", akin to our current invasion of privacy due to surveillance cameras, and how this depersonalization led to patients feeling that they were invisible or "at least unworthy of account". Rosenhan also adds that such a depersonalised surrounding frequently led to medication being flushed down a toilet. It is easy to see how a patient may lose trust when he believes the doctor does not care about him-a feeling reinforced with busy medical staff and prescriptions issued without personal contact. This only emphasizes the need for a greater therapeutic relationship with patients; the need to combine psychotherapy with

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