Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dr. Feelgood?

The most recent episode of another pop pseudo-psychologist making headlines has got me perturbed. Dr. Drew Pinsky was babbling about how Tom Cruise is mentally ill, due to his involvement in the cult of Scientology. To quote Drew: “To me, that’s a function of a very deep emptiness and suggests serious neglect in childhood — maybe some abuse, but mostly neglect.”

Of course, he then has to retract and apologize. He is the host of Celebrity Rehab on VH1 after all. (Ironic, here, that Cruise, et al, called the Jewish Dr. Pinsky, a “Nazi,” in their rebuttal.)

And then, having learned his lesson real good, Drew comes out with this brilliant piece of work:

“I'm concerned with what's really going on with Angelina Jolie. I've never seen someone remit heroin completely. You're either still on heroin, Oxycontin, or something else. Unless you're dead. Is she still using something? Is she in recovery? If she's in recovery, I don't see any evidence of it, because people in recovery invest themselves in simple, selfless acts of service, not global self-serving acts."

I am irritated for multiple reasons. For starters, this causes me to side with (at some level) Tom Cruise and the scientologists, with whom I personally (not professionally) have a few beefs…..another time on that. The last thing this group needs is to win PR points because some wannabe shrink has to publicly apologize to them. And regarding Ms. Jolie, well…I just think Angelina Jolie is hot. Um…and of course there’s the obvious trashing of medical and professional ethics.

Paging Dr. Drew! Dude, where in your Hippocratic Oath did it state that you should make public diagnoses on people who are not your patients, do not want to be your patients, and are not soliciting your advice? Pinsky is a board certified internist and addiction specialist- which means he went to medical school, specialized in internal medicine and passed a board exam. He is not a therapist, either psychiatrist or psychologist. This is critical, because the untrained pseudo-therapists seem to have difficulty with certain concepts, like confidentiality (Hello Dr. Phil, RE: Brittany Spears), neutrality (Dr. Laura, preaching personal dogma like “don’t marry someone from a different religion.”), doctor-patient relationships, and other medical ethics. Dr. Phil has a PhD in Psychology, but was sanctioned by the Texas Board of Examiners and is not licensed to practice psychology anywhere. He appears to be more concerned with skirt-chasing or dollar-chasing than in actual practical therapy. Dr. Laura Schlessinger has a PhD in Physiology, not in any therapy modality, and uses her title to wax rhapsodically about the “biological error” of homosexuality, rather than focusing on an individual’s emotional need, thus ruining any sense of neutrality in the therapeutic relationship.

Perhaps I’m off the mark, but using a title like “Doctor” denotes some professional expertise; and professional service if you are going to a “Doctor” for advice, treatment, etc. There appears to be no such professional service being transacted here, and the use of “Dr.” is nothing more than false advertising. So, Laura, Phil, Drew and others, if you’re just giving your opinion, drop the whole “Doctor” schtick. And Drew and Phil, stick to the scripts handed to you on TV, and otherwise shut up.


Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Ah, but the lure of filthy lucre is too hard to ignore. Ethics be damned when the opportunity to cash in on a title comes calling.

I find these people easy to ignore, but I know there are people who actually pay attention to them. For the life of me, I can't imagine why. Like taking advice from Dear Abby, or etiquette pointers from Miss Manners, I just wonder where the dispensers of false wisdom come from. I also wonder about their audience. Are people no longer taught to be discerning, to figure things out, to occasionally make mistakes?

Doc said...

Good point. I suppose the same argument can be made on the usage of the title "Reverend" for the chasing of cash or power. To me, unless one is preaching, singing, stewarding, or performing a ceremony, then the title just doesn't fit.