A Herd of Narcissists, Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about the relationship between narcissism and shame.  This brings me to my next point, which is that narcissists see themselves as “unique and special people.”

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I’m looking at narcissism because I believe its submerged half, shame, is a shadowy but potent presence in many healthcare settings: its destructive force is shaping the behaviour of many working in the field.

I want to understand what went wrong with my mother’s journey through the healthcare system. I want to know why workers in it were so prone to lying, prevaricating and stonewalling. I would also like to know why advocating for my mother provoked so much anger and resentment.

I’m looking for answers because I am getting older and what I saw frightened me.

My mother’s journey started in an acute-care hospital. From there she went to a rehabilitation hospital, and from there she came to my home, where she lived for 20 months. She is now in a long-term care facility here in Montreal and is, for the most part, doing well. However, if you read Part 1 of this article, you will already know this wasn’t always the case.

Like many [...] continue the story

Why I am an Advocate

By Brandon Staglin August 5, 2010

I have schizophrenia, and sometimes I think about whether I have let my illness define my life. I work for my family’s nonprofit, International Mental Health Research Organization (IMHRO), as a mental health advocate. If you asked me when I was a kid what work I would want to do, the last thing I would have said was to take on a family enterprise. I used to value my individuality above anything else, and dreaded being corrupted by conformity. Thanks in part to my illness, my values have shifted since then. I had a psychotic break in 1990, the summer after my freshman year at Dartmouth College. A friend managed to get me to a psychiatry ward. At first, I could not accept that I had a mental illness. I had a life plan, to be an astronautical engineer! I would not be cut down by a schizophrenia diagnosis.

Three nights into my first hospitalization I decided I would get out of the psych ward immediately. I was unable to sleep, furious, and refused to take meds. A nurse was on her way with an injection to make me sleep. I would not let her violate my consciousness! [...] continue the story

Awkward Hands Move at a Snail’s Pace

One of the most troubling symptoms for those with Parkinson’s is bradykinesia, which is just a fancy word for slow movement. I’m grateful (alleluia) that my tremor and dyskinesia have subsided with help from a great Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) programmer and medication adjustments. However, I continue to be plagued by slow and stiff movement, particularly in my hands. I find it ironic that before Parkinson’s, I could talk and walk fast, eat quickly, play the accordion at a fast clip, type 99 wpm without errors, complete university in three years, work three jobs simultaneously, and overall function as an efficient and fast-moving person. People previously described me as an Instant Person.

With Parkinson’s, particularly when my medication and DBS stimulation aren’t working at an optimum level, life seems in slow motion and particularly my hands move at a snail’s pace. For example, sometimes buttoning my blouse, zipping my jacket, turning the key to open the door, folding a sheet of paper and putting it in an envelope, putting a stamp on an envelope, handwriting, taking coins and bills out of my wallet, eating with a fork, preparing or cutting food, putting on makeup–all can seem like insurmountable tasks with my [...] continue the story

My window of opportunity

By Laura Lewis November 7, 2011

One Saturday in the summer, my husband and I visited a museum in London where there was a range of impressive coats of armour. While we were admiring the condition of these medieval battle-dresses, it occurred to me how wearing a coat of armour must be hard work and similar to my daily experiences when I am “off”. I explained that walking while being “off” (or parky) felt like stumbling through tar on the deck of a cross-channel ferry in a force nine gale wearing a coat of armour. He found that staggering.

“Wearing off” is not entirely predictable, but usually occurs between three and four hours after taking medication. I have a 20-minute warning then gradually the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD) creep over me like a vice slowly gripping my shoulders and then working their way down my back. For me, the most exasperating aspect of “wearing off” is being unable to manipulate things; I cannot write, operate my laptop keyboard or manage the simplest tasks like buttoning blouses or cleaning my teeth. It also affects my voice which becomes quieter and my speech less articulate. However, “wearing off” is not inevitable and I [...] continue the story