I was introduced to the concept of Pharmakeia by a friend who reiterates the directive given to him by his acting psychiatrist at the time. My friend asked why was he being prescribed medication for what was called a psychosis. The doctor replied, “For people like you”.
Sounds scary but is this attitude indicative of modern psychiatry?
So, Pharmakeia, as described by my friend is the idea that pharmaceuticals carry the potency of witchcraft. As one myself who is dependent on psychiatric meds, I beg to differ bc of how I see the drugs help. But does that mean that the pills are not witchcraft?
I suppose I should consult a witch doctor. After all, I’d probably get a more thorough response than from most psychiatrists. Thankfully my current doc is out of the norm, thoughtfully probing and diagnosing very logically. I like how he says, “it’s not the diagnosis that matters so much as finding the right meds for the symptoms”.
A friend has engraved it upon my mind that, “it’s your body. You need to have the last word for what goes into your body”. His thoughts have propelled me into more research before blindly accepting my doc’s advice. But still I wonder, what about the notion of witchcraft? Can it be ruled out so easily?
Last time I tried to go off all my meds, I foolishly did it all at one time. It felt really weird for a while, then calmed me down, giving me a renewed vigor for life. (After a few days I collapsed mentally and restarted the meds immediately). I was starting to buy in to the witchcraft idea. The first doctor that diagnosed me, at Vanderbilt, said I definitely had schizophrenia and (the dagger) he said I should never engage in a religious vocation.
Now, psychiatrists move quick. They have a long waiting list and time is money, and they are not counselors, so you gotta be willing to talk symptoms and meds in a short amount of time. He changed my diagnosis to bipolar to schizoaffective and back to schizophrenia (just for obtaining government benefits). But again, he wasn’t out to go by the book more than to listen to me. That’s why I’ve stuck with him for years.
I’m a Christian, and the spiritual forces at work in my and our world can be brutal. But especially how it all affects our mental health. My doctor doesn’t subscribe to talking spiritual, probably with good reasons, like lack of time. But I know I am comprised of more than a seemingly broken brain. I am a child of God, made in God’s image, with His spirit living in me.
So, at one point I tried another psychiatrist who is Christian. Well, I quickly returned to the first because the Christian doc wanted me off all pharmaceuticals, replacing with natural supplements. Needless to say this was preposterous and didn’t come close to a beneficial result.
But maybe he took that approach for a reason. Pharmakeia reason?
I tend to think I’ll be on meds for life. I guess I’m half and half on the witchcraft idea, but I know how I get without meds, and I tend to believe more in a good future for myself when taking the meds.
For me, the pharmakeia lies in trying to get me unstable by skipping or foregoing meds. Lies, lies, lies.
What’s your experience with mental health medication? Some swear only by natural sources like marijuana or mushrooms among other home remedies.
One thing that peaks my interest in Pharmakeia is how the doc tells you said drug will take 2-3 weeks to really work. My experience has always seen the meds work the best when I first take them, as if the shock to my system is all that counts. Waiting for weeks doesn’t help anybody. Maybe the doc is selling you a line to get some pills off the shelves.
I think about Jesus’ response to the coin found in the fish’s mouth…”render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”. That is, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Such things are too complex to figure out definitively. We must pray for each other, and meet together.
“Where one or more are gathered, there I am.”