What’s spaghetti sauce got to do with it?

pasta-sauce-aisleMalcom Gladwell’s TED talk about spaghetti sauce tells the story of how Howard Moskowitz changed not only the world of spaghetti sauce but started off how these days we shop for pretty much anything.

As Malcom Gladwell says,  go into any supermarket – any “good supermarket” [by which I guess he means big, with lots of choice] and you’ll see at least 37 varieties. Not so long, in North America at least,  there used to be only two. Each company focused on finding the “perfect spaghetti sauce” – meaning the perfect one version of spaghetti sauce that was a perfectly fit with the culturally-constructed notions of what perfect spaghetti sauce was to an equally  perfect all-American spaghetti eater.

No marketing and especially food companies know there is no such thing, they recognise there is no such thing and instead spend millions of offering endless variety so you can find the one that suits you.
– even to the extent that you may sometimes wish they didn’t. But that’s a different blog.maybe you can just stick to less good [ie smaller supermarkets, or even make your own.

So what’s this got to do with so called “mental health”? .

Well,  we do have a seemingly endless 357 varieties of diagnoses: endless thiongs they can interpret as wrong with you, deficient in your humanity – and dozens of names to call you.
Yet there is but one way – the way, their way of treating us.n
if their perfect drug doesn’t suit us then we get more of it foisted on us.

The way of way of suck.

What if their version of spaghetti sauce doesn’t suit us?

We need to make mental health services more like spaghetti sauce

One spaghetti sauce does not fit all.

Less effort spent dreaming up new categories in which to squeeze people, more resources spent offering more options for how to make sense of our own life struggle, more options on what steps we might try so those of us struggling can build their own personal unique recipe.

Modern day govt services –  and the non-profits that serve to deliver govt funded services – take great pride in adopting “best practices” – especially  those that come “MBA-approved” like  “efficiency”.

Well,  how about they adopt some actually useful ones that make a real different to real lives of people they serve – rather than a minor decimal point difference on a balance sheet?

If food industry and supermarkets can recognise people are unique individuals – and that what they really sell is options and choice -then why can’t hospitals and other services do likewise in a field where people are even more unique and individual?

And don’t give me that “patient  centred care” sloganeering  crap – if its not “patient centred” then what does it care about?

Hospitals – and other services that replace what used to be hidden behind hospital walls – are stuck.  The greatest technological advance in psychiatry is still the chimney: enabling the victorian era model that sees them as a factory,  all housed under one roof, heated by one chimney – enabling the efficient delivery of Doctors’ largesse – and the bureaucracy that feeds and rations that.

Give me the spaghetti sauce isle any day
-and make mine extra chunky.

Malcom Gladwell, TED



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