Psychiatric Views on the Daily News - Episode 182

Alligators and Other New Mental Health Care Strategies

These new wave mental health care strategies… would you try them?

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

“If you know how to use it, this is the cure.” - a Ukrainian raver

In yesterday’s weekly video, I talked about the importance of love in our workplaces. Love is certainly not new, but deliberately using it as a caring wellness tool in psychiatry is still rare. Soon after, I read about some other new therapeutic endeavors that take some unanticipated approaches.

Alligator Supportive Therapy1

The diversity of emotional support animals keeps expanding, it seems, including peacocks and donkeys. But coldblooded alligators? Really? Imagine that! Joseph Henney’s WalllyGator goes with him most everywhere. At first, he took the young alligator into his Pennsylvania home to then relocate it. This one turned out to be different apparently, more docile and relational, like a dog. In 2017, with unresolved grief from the loss of family members, his physician suggested registering WallyGator as an emotional support animal for Mr Henney, and it was approved!

Destructive Therapy2

Remember the once popular primal scream therapy, supposedly recreating the birth trauma cries? Well, there is a new version of it in the rage room, which first gained popularity in Japan in the late 2000s, and then on ABC’s show “The Bachelorette.” In short bursts, each patient can smash various objects in a safe environment, a version of the value of ventilation, but physically instead of verbally.

Kidnapped Therapy3

This seems to be a variation of the destructive therapy, but just pretend. In the new 10-episode mini-series “The Patient” on Hulu, the serial killer sociopathic patient kidnaps the therapist and chains him to a hook in the floor and demands to be cured. A la Freud, the therapist analyzes himself in order to figure out the countertransference and transference in dealing with his captor, so who is the patient here really? I worked some in a medium security men’s prison, so I could immediately fantasize being taken hostage there, but fortunately that never happened.

Rave Therapy4

For rave therapy, you will have to go to Ukraine. With all the predictions of an epidemic of posttraumatic stress disorder coming there due to the traumatic Russian invasion, some Ukrainians are partying in the lull of the fighting. Overcoming any guilty feelings, they are dancing their hearts out.

Analysis

What are these mental health care developments all about? Self-help? Useful experimentation? Desperate measures for desperate times? For now, I am not recommending these “treatments” to anybody.

Then there are all the online creators, self-taught de facto therapists, sometimes monetized. Let the customer beware.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.

References

1. Free C. His emotional support animal is an alligator. They sleep in the same bed. The Washington Post. August 29, 2022. Accessed September 1, 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2022/08/29/emotional-support-alligator-wally-henney/

2. Winn S. ‘Destructive therapy’ lets angry people break stuff safely. Chicago Tribune. August 30, 2022. Accessed September 1, 2022. https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-destructive-therapy-20220829-6ikffu7q4rdrxfvtm57uonk2im-story.html

3. Hale M. The Patient’ review: the doctor is in. In the basement. The New York Times. August 29, 2022. Accessed September 1, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/29/arts/television/the-patient-review.html

4. Gettleman J. Kyiv nightlife comes back amid urge for contact. ‘This is the cure.’ The New York Times. July 26, 2022. Accessed September 1, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/26/world/asia/kyiv-ukraine-war-nightlife.html