Walking the Talk

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I recently watched a show on YouTube, that compelled me to write to the producer and ask to get on the show. The talk show host was interviewing a psychotherapist and challenging him on views of mental health and addiction. Though a little heavy on the religious aspects of mental health, Mr. Peterson, the host, was clear in his perception that people who are not mentally healthy are limited in their ability to help others. He repeatedly challenged the (agnostic) therapist as to why spirituality could not heal most mental illness. His grand finale question to the therapist, “Do you smoke pot?” was quite revealing. When the therapist admitted that he did, Mr. Peterson asked, “How is a mentally ill therapist supposed to help someone with a mental illness?’

His question took me back to a place in time when at a school fund-raiser, one of my children asked, “How are we supposed to say no to drugs when these parents are standing around drinking and smoking? It just doesn’t make sense.” My child was making an astute observation — How can an addicted parent teach a child to make good choices?

Good points, indeed. I’m not debating whether pot smokers are mentally ill, or if all mental illness can be healed through prayer. Nor am I suggesting that any parent or therapist has to be perfect. But these very insightful comments by a radio talk show host, and a twelve-year-old, are certainly worth consideration. Think about it, how confused is a child raised in an environment of “Do as I say, not as I do,” or a patient of an addiction therapist who is puffing away on cigarettes, pot, pushing pills, or suffering from obesity. This is dissociative — compartmentalizing wanted vs. unwanted behavior and leaves the addiction untreated.

If you’re addicted, it’s not your fault. Alcohol, cigarettes, digital media, drugs, internet porn, fattening foods, and pills, are all designed to be very addictive. This is not an accidental happening. They should all have a warning printed in big red letters: “SIDE EFFECTS: NUMBER ONE CAUSE OF DIVORCE, DEATH AND EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED CHILDREN.” Even if you don’t get addicted right away, the longer you use, the better your chances of addiction.

There’s also the problem of experts disagreeing on the proper treatment for mental health and addiction. This can be a reenactment of the same confusion that kids experience when parents give mixed messages.

Let’s stop the brainwashing and allow our minds to have the same clarity as a twelve-year-old. We can also be the observers of ourselves as if we are twelve-years-old watching ourselves without the delusions of denial and make-believe. Are you the healthy parent that the child needs to see? The more you can say “yes” to that question, the closer you are to being the healthiest person you can be for yourself.

About the Author — Dr. Donna Marks believes that the current models for diagnosis, treatment, and addiction have failed. Her mission is to help save at least 10 million lives by 2030, through education and prevention. She has been an author, consultant, educator, public speaker, licensed psychotherapist, and addictions counselor in private practice in Palm Beach, Florida, for more than thirty years. www.drdonnamarks.com

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Dr. Donna Marks is a licensed psychotherapist and an addictions counselor. She is certified in Gestalt Therapy, Psychoanalysis, Hypnosis, and Sex Therapy.

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