Tuesday, February 16, 2010

OK, this "rehab" thing is going too far

Chynna Phillips has checked herself into rehab.

For Anxiety.

You know, I didn't think that anxiety was something you went to rehab for.

And I am not saying that people shouldn't get help for anxiety, because I know from first hand experience that it is a debilitating thing. What I am questioning is calling that help rehab, because really, everything can't be called rehab. As a society, we have to draw a line somewhere, and I think this is one of those points.

Chynna is getting help for anxiety issues. That's a good thing. But it is not rehab (at least from my understanding).

Calling it rehab is trying to dodge the stigma that mental health treatment has by dodging what it really is, and while it might work in this case, it isn't helping anyone.

Instead of trying to cover it with euphemisms, I wish that her publicist had been honest and just said that she was getting the mental help that she needed.

Given what she has gone through recently with her step-sister's revelations about her father, I think it would be more than understandable that Chynna might need the aid of a trained professional to come to terms with it. And in calling it what it is, she could have helped so many other people.

But again, calling it rehab is sort of minimizing what is going on here.


Dan said...

Actually, it possibly is rehab.

I worked for four years on a mental health rehab ward, and we didn't do alchohol or drugs, we worked on coping strategies for psychosis, depression, bi-polar disorder, and anxiety.

Psychiatric wards which do not treat acute illnesses, but rather treat ongoing chronic illnesses on an inpatient basis are often labeled as rehab (at least within the UK mental health system).

The media has latched onto the whole drug and alchohol rehab thing, quite understandably, as celebrities often attend them. Very few celebs have mental illnesses that would require treatment in a traditional psychiatric rehab ward.

MC said...

The reason I ran with this story was I put the phrase "anxiety rehab" into regular Google search and out popped 47 out of the first 50 references to the above story, and no links to mental health facilities, care programs or other services in that area of care, and thus concluded that her publicist chose that word deliberately for its lesser stigma (because it seems that saying someone is in rehab is judged less harshly by the media than seeking other forms of mental health intervention).

(I have just gotten to the fourth page of results for the search term "anxiety rehab" and results related to anxiety as a result of both drug/alcohol related rehab and sports/cardiac rehab have come up, but still no references to individual programs have come up.

I think it is odd that across the ocean, the reference carries more weight than it does in the Americas.

Kristyn said...

I had no idea you could go to rehab for mental disorders. In my day, we called that therapy, but I guess therapy's not as trendy as rehab.

I did learn something new from Dan's comment. I had no idea places like that existed. I mean, mental hospitals, yes, but not rehab wards for mental disorders.

I have very serious social anxiety, so I can certainly sympathize with others who do. Still, I admit to having rolled my eyes when I saw this on MSN a day or so ago. Not because of the anxiety, but because of the rehab stuff.

Arjan said...

Glad to have read Dan's comment or otherwise I wouldn't have known either. It just shows how 'in fashion' rehab has become that most of us only know it as rehab from drugs & alcohol (a bit strange that we differentiate these btw since alcohol is a drug in itself as far as I know - just a far more accepted one).

Bart said...

Yeah, don't forget that in the end, rehab is short for rehabilitation, and that can, and will, cover a wide variety of things. It seems sorta silly at face value, but if Phillips doesn't think she can cope with regular therapy and needs to actually rehabilitate, well, that's her problem, quite literally. She presumably has the money, and calling it rehab is a lot more PR friendly (at least these days) than saying she committed herself to a mental health facility.

sinisterdan said...

You get treatment for anxiety, not rehab.You can call it rehab, but that's a word game.

Technically, anything that you recover from can be said to have been rehabilitated, but you are spot on here - she didn't want to issue a press release about seeking psychiatric help.

And why the hell is this woman even deserving of a press release?

MC said...

Kristyn: Yes, it was the wording that made me have a reaction to this story.

Bart: I am just noting that using that particular word may not be accurate. Then again, I could indeed be wrong as Dan pointed out.

Arjan: With people going to sex rehab after a scandal, I am familiar with people going into facilities for a variety of reasons. Perhaps I am judging her too harshly and she is on the vanguard of a new kind of treatment option.

SD: She was an actress/singer in the past, married to a Baldwin and tangentially related to a scandal. That's how it became world wide news.

Dan said...

@sinisterdan I take your point - but the word rehabilitation as it's used in this context would be rehabilitation back to your "regular" life. Just like criminals are rehabilitated back to society (although the comparisons are limited obviously).

However I should have said that generally you wouldn't admit someone to a UK rehab ward for solely anxiety. Generally the illnesses dealt with are more severe and enduring than that - although if you have the money I'm sure you'd be able to find a private hospital that would admit you.

And also these days rehab is often called "recovery" instead.

Right, I'll shut up about this now :)

William Keckler said...

I like that you call culture on its ridiculous use of language here.

So....what? If she comes out and feels some anxiety again, she is a recidivist?

A recidivist anxietist?

Or a repeat offender?

I guess there is a broad interpretation which can be made of the meaning of words like hability, habilitation, etc.

Criminals once went to prison to learn to be differently habile, I think.

They were habile at things like stealing or murdering.

So they either had to do punitive things (like separating oakum with their bare fingers, which hurt!) or they learned to do things useful to society, which was really rehabilitation. I mean, if they were learning to be habile in a new way.

As a mental health "consumer," I read all the funny things posted on the walls in "those places."

It's funny, because the other day I was reading what the "Spanish" version said, and what the English version said, and they didn't say the same things.

Not exactly.

They were close but some of the Spanish translations had the rights just slightly abbreviated (usually a little) and sometimes even had components abrogated. It wasn't like they couldn't just literally translate it. They could have. They didn't.

This paper telling patients their "rights" used the funny word "habilitation" in one phrase.

Who does that?

In general, there was an attempt to be generous and fair, and then obfuscate this generosity and fairness, so the average client would end up with no idea what this meant or what his or her rights actually were. Bravo, Newspeak.

That's why I'm using these very Latinate words that nobody really uses.

You can be an addict and be habile.

You're habile at scoring drugs and taking them (prescription or otherwise).

Then you can get rehabilitated.

You are now "differently habile." Bravo. Or Brava.

I suppose they would say they are teaching Chynna how to handle her anxiety by teaching her to be habile in stress management.

So there's the technical little bit of "rehabilitation.

But people will laugh.

And sneer.

I just hope she wore the striped uniform.

I hope she has to take my trash out and feed it to the gnashing machine every Wednesday morning at 7 a.m.

And walk with that stick alongside the highway where luckier junkies will sing Jefferson Starship songs out the window as they drive past.

Because, let's face it, MTV was far too generous with that child.

John said...

Only rich people can afford such illnesses. This reminds me of a scene from Man of La Mancha. Don Quixote enters and inn, and the innkeeper greets him enthusiastically and invites him to enter. A maid quietly asks the innkeeper "What makes you think that this madman has money?" The innkeeper replies, "Since when did a poor man have time to go mad? He's a gentleman."

Sometimes I read about celebrities who are hospitalized for "exhaustion". When I've been exhausted, my two options were (1) drink more coffee and get back to work and (2) go to bed.