Thursday, 6 February 2014

Parallel Monologues

Dec 4:
Up to now I have anonymized dr Samei Huda, but as he is one of the three experts who critiqued "Understanding psychosis" in The Mental  Elf, I am naming him.
I am also embedding three subtweets that he wrote after I suggested we agree to disagree in a discussion and he replied "Fair enough".

I am going to describe a behaviour pattern that I have registered in some psychiatrists and psychologists, and that others have described in other psychiatrists and psychologists. No more than that, mkay? I am not writing that ALL psychiatrists and psychologists do this weird parallel monologue thing. 

And I am describing this pattern because it caused me no end of confusion when I was trying to communicate my problems and my needs in a psychiatric setting. 

ONCE UPON A TIME I TRIED TO EXPLAIN the concept of "dialogue" to our local Psychiatric Consultant.

 I said:
Dialogue is when you say something, I respond to what you said, you respond to what I said, and if there’s something we don't understand, we ask.

What we are doing now, is Parallel Monologues: You say something, I respond to what you say, you repeat something you have said already, I repeat something I have said.

And sometimes we have Responsus Interruptus: You ask me something, I begin to answer, and you interrupt with the "real" answer. If you want an answer from me, ask and let me complete my reply before saying that I am wrong. And if you want to dictate your version of the truth, don't hide it in a question.

While I was saying this, Dr C went into Thoughtful Listening Pose and nodded once in a while, which I now know can be the psychiatric equivalent of sticking a finger in each ear and singing: "NA NA NA NA NA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!" 

And after I left, he wrote "she refuses to let me question anything she says or interrupt her", blasting another nail into the Borderline coffin he was building for me.

The mistake I made in this situation was a mistake I have made many times in contact with mental health care: I did not ask “Would you please repeat what I have just said?” 

A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO I FELL into another example of parallel monologue - on Twitter, when a psychiatric consultant asked about the elephant in my blog title.  The first part of that story is here:


It ended like this:

 I gave up ( …) And giving up is a tacit agreement that the expert is right. A win/win situation for the expert.


And so it was for you, Dr Elephant Expert on Twitter. 

You have asked to be named, but I decided not to do so, as I was found guilty of deranged stalking and obsessive tweet replication yesterday, by another mental help professional who asked to be named and “looked forward to” my response.  You can name yourself in the comment section if you want to. 

I’ll begin with two quotes from a thread where you and some colleagues were subtweeting about me being a stalker:

Dr Elephant Expert 05.02.14 09:08 my quotes r blurred but nowhere does she refute them or point out her blog title is wrong: her view is only part of "elephant"

I will “refute” your quotes further down, for now I just have one question: Why do you expect me to “point out” that my blog title is wrong?

Dr Elephant Expert 05.02.14 09:12 interesting she doesn't point out context of science quote: she claimed to bee unable to see how psychiatry is based on science
(Later: The context is in a link that Dr EE did not bother to open)

From my point of view, the science of psychiatry can be compared to the geocentric model of the universe.

Just like idea that our planet is the centre of the universe, psychiatry starts from a false premise: the medical model of "mental illness".  

I am not trying to change your mind about this, I am just refusing to agree with you. And if I prove that I am delusional by not agreeing that psychiatry is science-based, I can live with that.

Now to your tweets to me after I thought our discussion was over:

Dr Elephant Expert 05.02.14 09:17 thanks for the mentions and I note you didn't refute any of my points.

Ingrid J. Vaalund 05.02.14 09:56 Refutation here. Thanks for proving my point:

Dr Elephant Expert  05.02.14 10:00 and you didn't refute any of my other points: eg if medicine banned cos it MAY be harmful all meds banned for ALL illness

Ingrid J. Vaalund 05.02.14 10:05  Thank you again. And I give up. Suggest we agree to disagree. >

Ingrid J. Vaalund  05.02.14 10:07  > Is it OK if I post a screenshot of your last comments without removing your name? >

Ingrid J. Vaalund  05.02.14 10:09 Would you like to be named openly, so that your contributions to my blog come up in searches?

Dr Elephant Expert  05.02.14 10:16 yes to both

Ingrid J. Vaalund  05.02.14 10:20 Great! Thank you! You will star in a blog post called "Parallel Monologues". Will page you.

Dr Elephant Expert  05.02.14 10:37  I do suspect a lot of social media discourse is on parallel tracks

So, Dr Elephant Expert, here are some refutations

 A: Ungrammatical elephant argument:

Dr Elephant Expert : but my point is about your blog title is "we" refers to all classes of viewpoints about mental health and that includes medical

The "we" in my blog title refers to people, which makes grammatical sense and fits  the theme of my blog. I linked to a post explaining my metaphor yesterday: , and I wrote: "IMO you, I and everyone are the whole elephant. To me, this is a reminder that people are more than the bits we notice. "

The “we” in my blog title does not refer to viewpoints. If my elephant had been a viewpoint elephant, I would have written "They are the whole elephant." That would have been grammatically correct. Mkay?

B: Appeal to Bagpuss Authority:

In case you haven't heard of fallacies, I can recommend this book that I bought for my grandchildren: It is easy to understand and even has pictures.

@DrElephantExpert : ahh was in Bagpuss (kids TV show) so elephant is the whole truth of which different people see aspects of. So ur not whole elephant

None of our elephants are evidence-based. Both of them are metaphors. And the nice thing about metaphors is that they cannot be correct or incorrect - they are what we want them to be.

I have absolutely no problem with your Bagpuss elephant, I am in no way stating that it is wrong, you are welcome to cleave to it as much as you want.

I do have a problem with your attempting to invade my people elephant metaphor with your Bagpuss one. Mine works in my context, as a reminder (which some psychiatrists I have met could sorely need) that people are more than what we see and perceive of them.

Therefore I suggest that we agree to leave each others' metaphorical elephants alone.

I have no desire to get you to admit that your Bagpuss Elephant is wrong.

Do you still insist that I admit that my  People Elephant is wrong?

C: Appeal to straw psychiatrists 

@DrElephantExpert : in which case the views of the human race are the elephant. But for MH excluding the views of psychiatrists means no whole elephant

Considering the power that psychiatry has in the field of mental health care, it is impossible to exclude the views of psychiatrists, and I cannot recall stating that I do so.

The straw man fallacy is very common both in Psychiatric Parallell Monologue and in dysfunctional families, and I find it very destructive.

It makes dialogue impossible, and it is so easy to get sidetracked into constantly saying "I did not say that, what I said was …" or giving up and proving that the other person is right.

My advice to people who need any kind of mental health care is to openly record meetings with helpers, at least until they have shown themselves to be trustworthy.

Professionals who are capable of dialogue and communication will probably not mind, and if there is miscommunication, it is useful have evidence of what was actually said.

D:  Appeal to straw medicine

Dr Elephant Expert 05.02.14 10:00 @ivaalsg and you didn't refute any of my other points: eg if medicine banned cos it MAY be harmful all meds banned for ALL illness

Do you consider your medicine argument to be rational? It is so silly that I honestly thought you were trying to be funny, but when I think back, you seem to have mentioned it five or six times, and you repeated it yesterday, so you must really be in love with it.  

Where is the logic of banning medicine because it MAY be harmful?

The alternative I prefer is honest, evidence-based, unbiased studies of medicines, with full disclosure of financial relationships between high-profile doctors and drug companies.

E: Sidetracking: 

The last example of parallel monologue comes at the end, when I  wrote: “You will star in a blog post called "Psychiatric Parallel Monologues", and you replied: “I do suspect a lot of social media discourse is on parallel tracks”

I was not writing about social media. If I meant social media I would have written “social media”. Mkay?  

I thank you again for helping me describe this pattern of parallel monologues. 

I now suggest that we stop here and agree to disagree about elephants, psychiatry as a science and harmful pills ... have I missed something?

But if you have something more to say, you are welcome to use the comment section. 


Later: There have been replies from Dr Elephant Expert. 
If I get more, I will paste them in here.


interesting that u agreed with some of my points and didn't refute the others. And interacting on Twitter is social media. Allend. 04:29 PM - 06 Feb 14


eg ur assumptions of medical model are incorrect, the point of parable you chose is that no one view is correct about al eg of self 04:32 PM - 06 Feb 14

Here is my response: 

My last reply to you: Suggest for the third and last time that we agree to disagree. Your tweets will be copied into my post 5:49 PM - 6 Feb 2014 


 fair enough. 05:25 PM - 06 Feb 14

Which arguments did I agree with?


Dr Elephant Expert seems to have won 
when I suggested we agree to disagree.
How nice for him.

@DrElephantExpert subtweeted: 

Scotland 1 Scandinavia 0 

Scotland 2 Scandinavia 0 

Which of my arguments kept running around after he chopped their heads off with logic?


  1. This would be funny if it wasn't so tragic. No-one has the right to define your elephant. It's not easy being bright. People think you don't understand when it's really they who do not understand. Interesting example of parallel monolog.

    1. In a way, it is funny,only because Dr Elephant Expert has no power over me. And I really appreciated this opportunity to illustrate the ubiquitous parallel monologues that have blocked communication in closed therapeutic situations.

      Would I have been labelled" personality disordered" by this psychiatrist if I had been his patient? I don't know.

      But we also have some fruitful dialogues on Twitter, this doctor and I ... which has started me thinking about blind zones ... people are capable of taking in certain kinds of new information, and other information does not register. "In order to see, you have to believe" that there in information there?

      Being bright might be part of it. And being open on Twitter about mental problems and a borderline diagnosis does lead to psycho-pathologization by certain professionals. Another parallel to therapeutic situations where "I don't understand this" becomes "She deluded/bewildered"


As the Vulcans say: "I rejoice in our differences". Comments, questions and differing opinions are welcome.

Because of spam, comments are now moderated.