On Knowing the Other

Controversy exists among psychiatrists and psychologists about the validity of mental health diagnosis, such as one found in the DSM.

Some are serious about it and devote their work to it. Others, like my self, wonder whether the diagnostic labels do justice to the being of the other.

A couple's (Bert and Cherie) consultation hour is a testament to the limits of knowing.

Of the multiple  hours I had with them, what must I have shared? My desire to get them look deeply within? My annoyances, impatience? My personal stories?

Yet I realized that had I spent hours with Bert and Cherie sharing all my data, still I would not have conveyed enough what I know and experience.

Another reason is, we tend to be selective about what we choose to disclose.

Cherie felt hurt by Bert's affair so she'd reveal little of her self to him. Consequently, Cherie also mistook the meaning of Bert's silence and frowns.

I got to know more about Cherie and her hurts and little self disclosure. I also got to know more about Bert and his silence and frowns.

But, I too, mistook their individual personalities and meanings. What I knew about the other remained still but a small fragment.

At best, their knowing what I share and my knowing what they share are only feeble approximations.

Thus, if a doctor relates to people believing that he can categorize and treat them with official diagnostic DSM labels, he misses nurturing their "vital parts" that transcend category.

It would have little to do with flesh-and-blood Bert and Cherie. It would have little to do with their essential healing in their lives.