2022-08-07 Eric Reinhart community and safety demand healthcare

Eric Reinhart (@_Eric_Reinhart): I often take care of people after suicide attempts. When they explain why they tried to die, a large proportion say they could no longer see “the point” in life. “There’s no meaning for me, no reason to live.” Most clinicians push against this idea to dissuade people from it. 1/

Many are fearful of acknowledging truth in our patients’ words. I often find it useful to, rather than oppose this personal nihilism, instead lean into it. It’s more honest. Many who have made many attempts and seen countless psychiatrists immediately see through canned lines. 2/

Yes, there is no intrinsic meaning or purpose in your life. This is difficult; it’s also the reason there’s possibility for you. The task of living is to invent meaning and purpose, and then invent it again. It’s work. Much of the time it’s painful. Sometimes, it’s also joy. 3/

But this work of living is especially challenging in a society that doesn’t support people in the task of meaning-making and offers so few sites for cultivation of purpose with others—and many of those that exist are destructive.

It’s why I want us to build systems for this. 4/ https://twitter.com/_Eric_Reinhart/status/1554284151884464129

It’s systems that offer meaningful, rewarding, and organized opportunities to both give & receive care that we most need to rebuild community, health, and safety in America. Rather than doubling down on failed police and prisons models, we need an entirely different paradigm. 5/ https://twitter.com/_eric_reinhart/status/1555963029015216128

And it’s not just patients who need these systems to help generate a satisfying sense of meaning & purpose. We as doctors, therapists, social workers, nurses, & caregivers need this. Working in our failing US healthcare system is intensely demoralizing. We need more, together. 6/

Much of what’s called “burnout” in healthcare has less to do with poor working conditions—no worse than they were 20 years ago—than growing disillusionment. It’s increasingly hard to believe that our work is part of the solution rather than perpetuating our for-profit problem. 7/

It’s by building genuine community care systems via the practice of accompaniment in which the giving and receiving of care are intertwined that we can make Lilla Watson’s famous statement below mean something in both material and spiritual terms. 8/ https://bostonreview.net/articles/eric-reinhart-accompaniment-and-medicine/ https://twitter.com/_Eric_Reinhart/status/1556352091962187776/photo/1

This thread could just as easily have begun with the lives of people with whom I work who’ve committed acts of violence. ==Erosion of social fabric along with material deprivation due to neoliberal US policy has led to isolation and nihilism. Like community, safety demands care.== 9/

“accompaniment is not simply good for public health [it’s also about] community-building, an ethically oriented politics of care, & the abolition of inherited structures of oppression that often subtly reproduce themselves in our efforts to undo them.” 10/ https://bostonreview.net/articles/eric-reinhart-accompaniment-and-medicine/

If you’ve read this far, figure I might as well try to get you to read my attempts to imagine ways forward. Hence the above essay and the below, which addresses the plague of public distrust from which we’re suffering and what it’ll take to end it. 11/ https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2022/06/redefining-gun-control-in-a-nation-of-distrust.html

And @gregggonsalves and @akapczynski’s essay, also linked in one of the subthreads above, lays out what I believe is an essential public system. My add would be that we should be even bolder: not 200,000 but an initial goal of 2 million workers. 12/ https://bostonreview.net/articles/gregg-gonsalves-amy-kapczynski-new-deal-public-health-we-need/

Two million community health+safety workers in America might sound unrealistically ambitious. But consider that it would be still only half the number employed by the law enforcement industry and less than half the number of nurses we have in the US. It’s a very realistic goal. 13/

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