[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n a perfect world it is the one responsibility of mental health professionals to help victims of mental illness identify dysfunctional behaviors, especially abusive ones, and direct them toward healthier, safer decisions and living. And even as far gone as the mental health community is these days, that goal is still generally the mandate for most of them.
Others, not so much. In fact, it is apparently the goal of some to not only ignore these things, but to even foster and enable them. Nowhere is this more evident, as far as I have seen in recent times, than at the website called PsychCentral, which is run by John M. Grohol, Psy.D., Editor-in-Chief of PsychCentral, and who proclaims himself a “pioneer in online mental health.”
What he is, in reality, is a pioneer of enabling child abuse and hiding it behind a thinly veiled façade of mental health services. If this seems implausible to you, kindly read on.
One of the features of the PsychCentral website is the provision of blogging services to some site members who are afflicted with mental illness. One such blog on the site is called Adventures of a Bipolar Mom, by a woman who identifies herself as Beth. In a recent blog entry, which I stumbled on by visiting Dr. Tara Palmatier’s Shrink4Men website, Beth takes us through an incident in her home involving her oldest “and most obnoxious” son.
Her account is poorly written, but from what I was able to discern she bought her son a video game. His reaction was apparently less than appreciative, but again it is hard to tell. Beth would have us believe that she handed him the game and his immediate response was “shut up, man.”
She didn’t provide any real sequence of events, so it lacks a lot of credibility. One would think that Hey, I bought you this cool video game, doesn’t just segue into Shut up, man very smoothly. There is information missing here, but that isn’t really the point.
She provides us the point by going on to say the following:
[quote]He continued with the attitude, that “whatever” teenage attitude that I absolutely despise. It just infuriated me even more. See, I am so limited in how I can handle such an obnoxious outburst from my possibly bipolar son. He has a mouth full of metal (and I mean full, with contraptions I couldn’t even try to describe) so bloodying a lip very well might end up being an ER visit, stitches, and a visit with child protective services. No thanks.[/quote]
And she goes on to offer more of her “rationale” as to why she should abstain from beating the crap out of her son:
[quote]Keep in mind I am a short 5’2? and he is a towering 5’9?, maybe 5’10? – getting in his face is getting difficult. My niece standing there, I threw my finger in his face and dared him to test me. He knows better, he knows his mother is crazy, why push the crazy bipolar mom into a rage? That’s just stupid if you ask me.[/quote]
And there you have it. Poor Bipolar baby. She could not smash him across the face for acting like a teenager because it might mean doctors and some trouble from authorities. Besides, he is getting big enough to defend himself from the abuse, so she must be careful; nothing so upsetting as the perp becoming the victim. But all is not lost, he can still be intimidated with just how crazy she is and the possibility of what could happen if he does anything “stupid,” like resist.
And she thinks all this is unfair, to her. Is it any wonder that she uses a picture of herself on the blog with her arm used to cover her face and eyes? You have seen the pose before, usually from people walking into courthouses to face the music on matters they would rather not have associated with their face. It is called a perp walk, and the Adventures of a Bipolar Mom Blog is an ongoing edition of it.
But seriously, here is the real travesty. PsychCentral is a web portal purporting to help the mentally ill by offering information, education and direct mental health services by qualified individuals. Of course, any qualified individual would have reacted professionally to what was written and intervened.
From a mental health professional who understands the first thing about the ethics and cardinal rules of that work, there would have been an attempt to one, assess whether this youth was in any danger and take action, if necessary, to protect them. And two, offer unambiguous guidance for the person who was the threat, trying to guide them toward less destructive and dysfunctional behaviors.
The response of the management (Dr. Grohol) of PsychCentral was complete silence, and the blog remains up at the time I write this.
While there were a couple of attempts from readers to point to the fact that this was abusive conduct, there was nothing from any mental health professionals, and some readers egged on the abuse. And it should also be noted that Dr. Palmatier has been subjected to hostile emails and threats since writing about this story.
From a reader with the screen name SuzannaMcMahan, Beth got the ubiquitous supportive mantra of “You go, girl!” followed by a short post outlining the positive aspects of a personal lack of accountability. In short, the enabling by omission from the management of PsychCentral resulted in more direct enabling from its readers.
Even with my busy schedule I am suiting up in full FTSU gear for this one. This is child abuse, pure and simple. And I am going to do something about it. And as I am want to do, I am asking for your active help as well.
PsychCentral needs to take down this disgraceful fucking blog, immediately and permanently. And then they need to follow through with their professional responsibilities to safeguard the well-being of the teenager involved. If they do anything less it makes them complicit with child abuse and guilty of unconscionable professional negligence. That won’t be tolerated either.
There will be much more on this to come, but for now the first application of pain is due. Here is a couple of tidbits of actionable information. Dr. Grohol’s contact information is as follows:
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55 Pleasant St., Suite 207
Newburyport, MA 01950
His email address is email@example.com.
Oh, and Ms. McMahan, the “You go girl” moron that sounded like she was auditioning to be a shill for Sharon Osborne? Well, her name linked back to her website. She is apparently a trinket maker that fashions her work out of “Wire & Recycled Vintage Jewelry.”
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I have remove this information to comply with certain social networking posting guidelines. For those that would like it, you may post a request in the comments and I will respond by email.
I am sure she would welcome some opinions as well.
It makes me wonder, since Beth’s son wears braces that are preventing her from bloodying him up, and Suzanne makes jewelry from scrap wire, perhaps they could form a team and make a few bucks from holding him down and stripping the metal right out of his obnoxious mouth? Perhaps Dr. Grohol would be willing to give them some ad space at PsychCentral with a customer’s discount.
Yes, Dr. Grohol, that was sarcasm. But I will tell you what isn’t. I am not going to rest until you take down that blog and stop providing a public forum for sick people to glorify and justify child abuse. Kindly take a serious look at the activism documented throughout this website and then ask yourself if you think I am kidding.