Ron Bassman has an insight not many others in the mental health field possess. Not only is he a provider of mental health services, but he is a person who has experienced psychiatric diagnosis and hospitalization as well. Ron Bassman knows about mental illness inside and out.
In this memoir, A Fight to Be - A Psychologist's Experience From Both Sides Of The Locked Door, the author writes candidly about his issues with mental illness and his life in general.
When Ron was in his early to mid twenties, he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. It was summertime when his first hospitalization occurred and he had already completed a master’s degree in psychology. Before his first hospitalization, Ron Bassman went on a spiritual journey, experienced higher psychological states, and would later be diagnosed and hospitalized for it.
He was hospitalized during the 1960's. During that time, insulin coma therapy was given to psychiatric patients. Ron was one of them. Regarding the treatment he experienced, he states: “The ease with which medical practitioners can ignore evidence from invasive cruel procedure makes me realize that anything can be justified or rationalized in the name of healing.”
Ron Bassman was hospitalized twice during his twenties with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. What makes him so remarkable is his determination to never give up. After another hospitalization, he chose to move forward and obtain his doctorate in psychology. He eventually made a full recovery of his life.
There was also another point in his life, when he chose to go back to his day job as a master's level psychologist at a state hospital and it was there that he disclosed his illness; he was treated with dignity and respect from his supervisor. This all took place well before the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted.
The author speaks about various issues pertaining to the mental health system.
“Diagnosed into being an object, imprisoned with or without walls, cut off from meaningful dialogue, the psychiatric consumer/survivor/ex-patient (c/s/x) must adapt to that artificial world. When you are diagnosed and treated for a major mental illness, your life's course is deeply affected by how you integrate that experience into your identity.”
Ron Bassman's book is a worthwhile read. I gained a lot of insight into what it would be like working as a provider with a mental illness. The book is very informative and insightful. Ron writes candidly about his experience with mental illness. I found his work very inspiring. He made me feel like I could take on challenges in my life and become successful the way he did. I especially admired his refusal to do what the system told him. He chose to live without psychiatric medication and that works for him. He also watches what he eats, and practices Tai Chi.
Dr. Bassman has not used psychiatric drugs, psychotherapy, or had any symptoms of mental illness for thirty years. He attributes his recovery to many things. But what really stands out for him is having a wonderful family who loves and supports him. He has been married to his wife Lindsey for many years and they are quite proud of their son, Jesse. He has found his own recipe for wellness and I admire that about him. Ron is not your typical psychologist. He worked in conventional settings for years, but found his true passion in working for New York State Office of Mental Health’s Recipient Affairs.
During his years of working as a conventional psychologist, he encountered a lot of stigma and discrimination. It is through his work as a recipient practitioner that he is able to work with dignity. He says that he wants to, “live and work with integrity.” I think that is what all of us want. Dr. Bassman really is a role model for people struggling with a psychiatric label.
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